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生物安全有多安全?

(2007-08-21 16:42:08)
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杂谈

分类: 英语学习
 
 
How safe is biosafe?
生物安全有多安全?

By Richard Gray
 
If foot and mouth can escape from an animal laboratory, can we trust the high-security labs that study deadly human diseases?
 
如果口蹄疫病毒能从动物实验室外泄,那我们还能相信那些研究致命性人类疾病的高安全性实验室吗?

Dressed in blue scrubs and disposable underwear, Simon Caidan cautiously transfers liquid into a series of vials inside the airtight cabinet in front of him. His arms are pushed up to his elbows in a pair of gloves sealed to the glass, preventing him from coming into contact with the potentially deadly material inside.
 
穿着蓝色防护服和一次性内衣,西蒙·凯旦谨小慎微地将液体移到眼前密封柜中的一套小瓶子里。他的双臂伸进封贴在玻璃上的套到肘部的一双手套里,以防接触到柜子里那具有潜在致命性的物质。
 
This is one of the most secure research laboratories in Britain, dealing with some of the world's most dangerous diseases. The threat posed by the pathogens kept here, on the outskirts of north London, is so great that the rooms are maintained at a lower air pressure than the outside to ensure nothing can escape when the doors are opened.
 
这就是英国最为安全的科研实验室之一,负责研究一些世界上最具危险性的疾病。它位于伦敦北部郊区,保存在这里的病原体具有非常大的威胁性,因此实验室的气压维持在低于外部的状态,以确保开门时不会发生任何泄漏。
 
All the air passing through the building is filtered several times to strip it of even the finest particles, while staff have to remove all clothing before entering and must shower before leaving. If there is a spillage, the entire laboratory can be sealed and fumigated.
 
所有通过实验室的空气都经过了数次过滤,以除去哪怕最细小的颗粒,工作人员进入之前必须脱掉所有的衣服,而且淋浴后才能离开。如果发生泄漏,整个实验室都要封闭,进行空气消毒。
 
Yet, despite these formidable safety measures, it is from a laboratory similar to this that a foot and mouth virus is thought to have escaped, infecting nearby livestock. Initial reports into the outbreak in Normandy, Surrey, have pointed to a high-security laboratory in Pirbright, three miles away, shared by the government-funded Institute for Animal Health and a private drug firm, Merial UK.
 
可是,尽管采取了这些强硬的安全措施,人们还是认为,就是与它类似的一个实验室泄漏了口蹄疫病毒,感染了附近的牲畜。关于萨里郡诺曼底所暴发的口蹄疫疫情初步报告就把矛头指向了位于三英里之外皮尔布赖特的一所高安全性实验室,这所实验室由政府资助的动物卫生研究所和私营的英国梅里亚尔药品公司共管。
 
The incident has sparked grave concerns about the state of the country's secure laboratories and the threat they pose. If a virus can escape from one such laboratory, can it happen again? And next time, could it be from a lab handling deadly human diseases?
 
该事件引发了人们对英国安全实验室的状况及其所构成威胁的严重关切。如果病毒能从这种实验室外泄,那么此类事件是否可能再次发生?而且下一次,病毒是否会从致命性人类疾病实验室中外泄?
 
In Britain, there are 15 "Containment Level Four" laboratories, the maximum biosecurity level, across the country. Each handles some of the deadliest organisms known to man and animals: diseases that are highly infectious, fatal even in low doses and impossible to treat.
 
英国拥有15所“四级防护实验室”,即最高生物安全级别实验室。每所实验室都负责研究一些在人类和动物身上已发现的最致命的生物体:具有高度传染性的疾病,哪怕是很小剂量也会致命,而且绝无治疗的可能。
 
"I am surprised there has been a release from a facility in the UK, of all places," said Dr Ingegerd Kallings, an expert on biosafety for the World Health Organisation and the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control. "You have good regulations in place." For Dr Kallings, the escape of foot and mouth into the countryside around the Pirbright laboratory illustrates the weak link in the world's biosecurity measures: people.
 
“我感到惊奇的是,恰恰是英国的设备发生了泄漏,”世界卫生组织和瑞典传染病控制研究所的生物安全专家英格德·卡林斯博士说。“你们有严格的规章啊。”在卡林斯博士看来,口蹄疫病毒外泄到皮尔布赖特实验室附近的乡下正表明了世界生物安全措施中存在的薄弱环节:人。
 
"It comes down to a lax attitude among the staff," she said. "You can't really blame the age of a facility for an escape, as ultimately the biosecurity is not a technical issue."
 
“归结到一点,就是工作人员态度松懈,”她说。“你的确不能把泄漏的原因归为设备老化,因为归根结底生物安全不是一个技术问题。”
 
What she, and other scientists, fear is that the tight regulations and safety measures can be rendered useless by carelessness. Adhering to safety protocols is tedious, and researchers can pick up bad habits or become complacent. Washing contaminated material down the wrong sink, for instance; carrying infected samples between rooms, or removing equipment from the laboratory before it has been properly decontaminated. All are hard to monitor and prevent.
 
她和其他科学家所担心的是,严格的规章制度和安全措施会因粗心大意而变得毫无用处。恪守安全议定书是件令人厌烦的事,研究人员会染上各种坏习惯或陷入自满状态。用错误的水池冲洗被污染的物品,拿着被感染的样本穿梭于各房间,或者未经适当消毒净化就将设备搬出实验室。所有这一切都难以进行监督和预防。
 
Malicious behaviour is even harder to control, if a member of staff decides to smuggle a virus out of a facility. Doctors and scientists, as the recent terrorist attacks on Glasgow airport showed, can be radicalised like anyone else and many experts have pointed at the folly of keeping stocks of dangerous diseases so readily at hand.
 
如果一名工作人员决定把病毒偷偷地带出实验室,那么恶意行为就会更加难以控制。最近格拉斯哥机场所遭到的恐怖袭击表明,医生和科学家与其他人一样会变得激进,很多专家已指出,将大量危险性疾病如此轻易地随手保存是件愚蠢的事。
 
Then there are the facilities themselves. Can a simple household electric shower, as used in the National Institute for Medical Research where Mr Caidan works, for instance, remove all traces of a virus?
 
设备本身也有问题。简单的家用电淋浴器,比如凯旦先生供职的国家医学研究所所使用的那种,能够冲洗掉病毒痕迹吗?
 
"Lab accidents happen more frequently than the public knows," says Ed Hammond, of the Sunshine Project, a non-profit-making organisation that monitors the use of biological agents. "They are not always as spectacular as the one in the UK, but I believe there's a real culture of denial about the scale of the problem."
 
“实验室事故比公众所知道的要频繁得多,”负责监控生物制剂使用的非营利机构“阳光计划”的埃德·哈蒙德说。“这些事故并不总像英国的这起这样惊人,不过我觉得,的确存在一种否认问题严重性的现象。”
In 2004, a Russian scientist working on an Ebola vaccine died after pricking her hand with a syringe, while in April 2005, a pandemic strain of Asian flu was released by a laboratory in America after it was accidentally put into test kits sent to scientists around the world. The last known case of smallpox occurred in 1978, when a researcher at Birmingham University was infected. No lab accident has resulted in the death of a member of the public… so far.
 
2004年,一位从事埃博拉病毒疫苗研究的俄罗斯科学家因注射器扎伤了手而去世,2005年4月,一种亚洲型流感病株因不慎放入发往全世界科学家的试验箱而导致从美国一家实验室外泄。最后一个为人所知的天花案例发生在1978年,当时伯明翰大学的一名研究人员受到感染。到目前为止,尚没有一起实验室事故导致公众死亡。
 
But campaigners fear that, with more and more research being carried out on these hazardous organisms, the risk of accidents and escapes is increasing. The viruses kept in Containment Level Four laboratories are among the most infectious. Just a few of the tiny organisms are needed to cause disease. Once out in the community, they would spread quickly, with little chance of controlling them, and there are effective treatments for few of them.
 
但是社会活动人士担心,随着对这些危险生物体的研究日益展开,事故和外泄的风险也在增加。保存在四级防护实验室的中的病毒都属于最具传染性的病毒。这些微小的生物体只需极少的一点就能致病,几无控制的可能,也没有有效的治疗方法。

At the National Institute for Medical Research, scientists are studying the deadly H5N1 avian flu virus. Samples from infected people are brought to the facility in London's Mill Hill for analysis. Researchers have also been working on the 1918 pandemic flu strain that killed about 50 million people. If this strain of the virus were to escape, it could cause a fresh pandemic, as virtually no one would have immunity.
 
在国家医学研究所,科学家们正研究致命性的H5N1型禽流感病毒。从感染者身上获取的样本被带到伦敦米尔希尔的实验室进行分析。同时,研究人员一直在研究1918年流感的病株,那场流感造成大约5千万人死亡。如果该病毒的病株外泄,就会导致新一场大流行病,因为几乎没有人会有免疫力。
 
"This is why the regulations have to be so strict," explains Mr Caidan, the head of safety for the site. "We are not just protecting our staff, but the environment and the general public."
 
“这就是为什么管理条例必须如此严格,”实验场地安全负责人凯旦先生解释说。“我们不只是保护自己的员工,而且还要保护环境和普通大众。”
 
So why are we taking the risk at all? "We need to carry out research on these organisms so we can understand them better and produce ways of treating them," says Prof Philip Duffus, an animal virologist at Bristol University. "We also need to handle samples for diagnosis of these diseases."
 
那么我们为什么要冒这个风险呢?“我们需要对这些生物体进行研究,这样才能更好地了解它们,想出治疗的办法,”布里斯托尔大学动物病毒学家菲利普·达弗斯说。“我们还需要研究样本,以诊断这些疾病。”
 
While the investigation into how the foot and mouth virus escaped from the Pirbright site continues, there are now doubts as to whether the laboratory is still fit for purpose. There are also questions about whether liquid waste from the Merial buildings and the Institute for Animal Health laboratory was treated sufficiently to kill any virus it contained, and investigators are still examining whether the disease could have been carried off the site by a member of staff.
 
尽管针对口蹄疫病毒如何从皮尔布赖特外泄的调查仍在继续,人们已经开始怀疑这个实验室是否还适用。同时,人们也在质疑梅里亚尔公司和动物卫生研究所排出的液体废物是否经过了充分的处理,杀死了其中的病毒,调查人员仍在调查疾病是否已被工作人员带出了研究场地。
 
One senior laboratory safety expert who recently visited the Pirbright laboratories has also raised concerns about the ability of the ageing facilities to effectively maintain biosecurity. "What I saw was quite shocking" he said. "There are some good scientists there, but the facilities are so old that the chances of making a mistake are much greater than at more modern facilities."
 
一名最近访问过皮尔布赖特实验室的实验室安全高级专家也对日益老化的设备能否有效维护生物安全提出担忧。“我所见到的情况非常令人震惊,”他说。“那里有优秀的科学家,但是设备太老了,与更为现代化的设备相比,出错的可能性很大。”
 
Regardless of the outbreak's cause, the safety of Britain's high-security laboratories will have to be improved. The WHO will publish new international standards for containing dangerous pathogens next year. The fear of the escape of a deadly human virus is sending many a shiver down white-coated spines. 
 
不管泄漏的原因是什么,英国高安全性实验室的安全必须得到加强。国际卫生组织明年将发布国际危险性病原体保存新标准。致命性人类病毒外泄造成的恐惧令众多身着白大褂的实验室人员脊骨发凉,不寒而栗。
 
                                                                                  摘译自The Telegraph Aug. 14, 2007

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