Accidental needle prick leads to infection with smallpox virus in a lab worker

Accidental small pox virus infection

A trainee research worker in San Diago accidentally infected herself with small pox virus. Not every laboratory acquired infection results in infection, but in her case she suffered from a significant viral infection.

One of the recent cases of laboratory acquired infections was presented in December 2018, in San diago, when a trainee lab worker got infected with Vaccinia virus (VACV). Well, as a part of her occupational health and safety session, she was offered a vaccine for smallpox to avoid any occupational hazard due to accidental needle prick. But, unfortunately as an instance of sloppiness she declined for that preventive measure and pushed herself into an inadvertent laboratory acquired infection. While doing an experiment she got an accidental prick with needle stick containing live culture of VACV. She immediately washed her finger and rushed to the local emergency department of the University after recommendation of her research supervisor.

Later she also consulted two community physicians as a precautionary measure, but on tenth day post-infection she was presented with swelling and a single vesicular lesion at the site of accidental needle prick. This later resulted into pain, fever, worsened swollen lymph node on day 12 of post-infection. The team of doctors treating her speculated the progression of compartment syndrome- which refers to excessive pressure in the enclosed muscle because of swollen lymph node. They also envisaged the joint infection, or further spread of the virus. Being concerned about the undetermined severity of the viral infection she was given anti-VACV injection – tecovirimat.

After infection the trainee worker was excluded from lab-work for four months considering transmission of infection to other workers and was counselled about the risk of VACV transmission.

This case emphasizes the importance of preparedness of lab workers towards the accidental laboratory acquired infection. The workers need to be well-informed about the severity of infection that might occur in case of accidental infection. This report significantly outweighs the role of Occupation Hazard Services and the misconception and sloppiness of lab-workers towards these biohazards.

Figure Article 1- 28 Oct

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