HL Deb 22 March 2000 vol 611 cc30-1WA
Lord Lucas

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What level of sterilisation they believe to be necessary to rid surgical instruments of the risk of carrying transmissible spongiform encephalopathies; and whether they will place in the Library copies of the principal scientific papers underlying such belief. [HL1526]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

The nature of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) agent is such that conventional methods of sterilisation such as autoclaving cannot always be relied upon to inactivate the agent completely. The Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee in September 1999 advised that rigorous implementation of washing, decontamination and general hygiene procedures were key measures in minimising the risk of TSE infection.

The Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP)/Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) publication, Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy Agents: Safe Working and the Prevention of Infection, 1998, copies of which are available in the Library, provides guidance on cleaning, decontamination and waste disposal and cites the following scientific papers:

  1. 1. Taylor D M et al (1994), Decontamination studies with the agents of bovine spongiform encephalopathy and scrapie. Arch Virol 139 313–326.
  2. 2. Taylor D M et al (1997), Inactivation of the 22A strain of scrapie agent by autoclaving in sodium hydroxide. Vet Microbiol 58 87–91.

Copies of both papers will be placed in the Library.