• Question: Isn't it dangerous working with bacteria like this?

    Asked by stevie to Jim on 21 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Jim Caryl

      Jim Caryl answered on 21 Jun 2011:

      It can be. The bacteria I work on have come from people whom it has infected and caused disease, also many of the bacteria I work on are highly resistant to antibiotics. However, we minimise the risks by wearing two sets of gloves, and lab coats that cover as much of us as possible. We have strict laboratory rules about no eating or drinking in the lab, and to not remove any items from the lab – so once a pen or a calculator goes in there, it does not return to the office!

      We dispose of all bacteria waste by autoclaving, so they are heated to 135 degrees C at high pressure, and then they are all burnt; anything that we want to re-use, like certain tools, are disinfected in very strong disinfectant. It’s not terribly hard to kill bacteria in the lab; they only become troublesome when in the body 😉