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Types of Biological Agents

Date:  2021-05-19 11:34:21
4 pages  (1038 words)
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There are various types of biological agents with which employees come in contact in their various workplaces. A biological agent is a micro-organism which is a cell culture or human endoparasite and which includes those genetically modified that have the ability to evoke an infection, toxicity or allergy (Tzellos, Kyrgidis, & Zouboulis, 2013). Biological agents are classified into four different types depending on their level of infection, the first type is the group 1 biological agent that has very low likelihood of causing human disease to the employees. The second type is the group 2 biological agent which are those that have the ability to cause human diseases to the employees and are hazardous to the workforce, however, these types of biological agents have very low probability of spreading to other workers because of the availability of efficient prophylaxis and handling. The third type is the group 3 biological agent which have the ability to cause severe disease to humans and are very hazardous to the workforce, additionally, this group spreads very fast but can be contained by the use of effective prophylaxis or treatment. Finally, there is the group 4 biological agent which causes severe diseases to humans, causes serious hazards to the employees and spreads to the community at very fast rate (Furst et al., 2012). Unfortunately, this group has no effective prophylaxis of treatment available.

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Exposure mechanisms for biological agents

It is easy for employees to get exposed to the biological agents and this calls for the employees to take keen attention in their work environment. One of the ways through which employees get exposed to the biological agents is by working with the biological agents in environments such as a microbiology laboratory (Danese et al., 2014). This is a way that exposes the employees to various chemicals and specimen that are infectious in nature thereby increasing the probability of getting infected by the biological agents. The second means of exposure is one which results from work activities but incidental to work; this is where biological agents are present as contaminants which include work activities such as treatment of sewage, farming, and collection of refuse among others. Finally, there is exposure to biological agents through means that are not work related; these are such as catching flu from a colleague. Moreover, there are various environments that increase exposure to biological agents and increase the risk to infection; some of the environments are such as the production plants, farms and biotechnology laboratories which include the processes of production of pharmaceutical products (Gomez et al., 2014). Additionally, working in environments in which employees get into contact with animals or animal products, healthcare units that include post mortem and isolation units and funeral and cremation units are other mechanisms where employees get exposed to biological agents.

Methods of evaluation and control for biological agents

The various methods of evaluating biological agents include the use of handheld assay which uses antigen/antibody reaction in identifying the suspect particulates (Tzellos, Kyrgidis, & Zouboulis, 2013). The second method is the use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) that identifies a biological agent basing on its DNA. Finally, the use of culture method which is an improved process of evaluation of a biological agent and this is often identified as the gold standard of evaluation of biological agents. This is because it is a more sophisticated method as the samples are collected and analyzed in the laboratory for confirmatory analysis of the previous methods of evaluation. Methods of controlling biological agents are such as separating the employees according to the specific types of biological agents to which they are exposed and the work that they do, this helps in diagnosing diseases caused by the biological agents which make treating the workers much easy. Secondly, the employees should not eat or drink within the places they work to avoid contamination by the biological agents (Furst et al., 2012). Third, the employees should be provided with the right washing and toilet facilities and suitable personal protective equipment (PPE). Finally, the working clothes and the PPE need to be removed on leaving the working environments and before cleaning the working environments, these clothes need to be kept away from other clothing at work.

Methods of sampling for biological agents

There are two main methods of sampling for biological agents and the first one is surface or bulk sampling (Danese et al., 2014). Bulk sampling involves the use of various materials such as swabs, which are applicable when the testing the surfaces that contain the particulate matter to detect the availability of biological agents. The use of wipes and sponges on the other hand help when sampling large surface areas and areas with higher collection efficiency in comparison to swabs. The use of vacuum method as a type of bulk sampling is also used when sampling large surfaces or porous and irregular surfaces. Finally, using agar plates to sample biological agents is employed by making a contact between the surface and the plate directly. The second method is the use of air sampling which helps in the detection of airborne biological agents, in this method, a mass of air is driven across a filter and then lodged in a different medium then the particulate matter that are captured are examined to aid in the identification of biological agents present (Gomez et al., 2014).


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