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December 8, 1951


JAMA. 1951;147(15):1456-1457. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.03670320056018

Sulkin and Pike1 report data collected on laboratory-acquired infections by means of a questionnaire submitted to 5,000 laboratories, including those associated with state and local health departments, accredited hospitals, private clinics, schools of medicine and veterinary science, undergraduate teaching institutions, manufacturers of biologicals, and various governmental agencies. The report includes cases reported in the literature. There were 1,342 infections presumably acquired as a result of laboratory work. Among these there were 39 fatalities, a rate of 3.0%.

The laboratory-acquired infections included 775 bacterial, 265 viral, 200 rickettsial, 39 parasitic, and 63 due to fungi. Brucellosis, tuberculosis, tularemia, typhoid, and streptococcic infections accounted for 72% of the bacterial infections and 31% of all infections. Coccidioides outnumbered all other fungi as a cause of laboratory infection, apparently because of the highly infectious nature of the chlamydospores.

The handling of clinical specimens and infected animals or ectoparasites accounted for 175 and 139