microbes at home

Jim Denham-Vaughan Jim at simdeva.demon.co.uk
Thu Apr 13 16:18:23 EST 1995

In article: <Pine.SOL.3.91.950410231434.1854B-100000 at general1>  
> Xref: news.demon.co.uk bionet.microbiology:1550
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> Newsgroups: bionet.microbiology
> Subject: microbes at home
> Date: 10 Apr 1995 23:26:25 -0700
> Organization: BIOSCI International Newsgroups for Molecular Biology
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> Is it legal to culture and maintain normally occurring bugs (those 
> collected from around the house) and keep them as stock cultures in my 
> house.  I know this may seem strange but I am trying to write an 
> interactive tutorial for microbiology, and I need pictures of them under 
> all conditions I can create.  My wife is a photographer and as soon as I 
> can obtain a scope we plan on photographing my animals for the program.  
> I have a mount for the 35mm camera but I don't have the scope yet.  So I 
> figured I'd better see if it was ok to do this in my home.  I do also 
> have a seperate fridge and have maintained stock cultures for a mic lab 
> at a local community college I attended before transfering to ASU.  
> Am I crazy, and is it legal, do I have to obtain permits??
> Thanks up front
> 			michael.steffani at asu.edu
I don't know about the legal position in the States, you might be best to get legal advice, but I imagine it is similar to that here. In the UK, organisms are divided into catagories under which they may be worked with or cultured. I can tell you about
bacteria, viruses or fungi but I don't know much about insects or creepy-crawlies.

Cat. 4 pathogens (Ebola virus, Marburg virus etc.) lethal pathogens.
Cat. 3 pathogens (TB, HIV, Salmonella typhi etc.) definitely nasty.
Cat. 2 organisms (Salmonella spp., Str.pneumoniae etc.) not very nice.
Cat. 1 organisms (Saccharomyces cereviciae (Brewers yeast)) bottoms up.

Special laboratory conditions are legally required for cats. 2-4 laid down 
in a set of legal "Codes of Practice" and reinforced by law. However, for the last catagory of organisms no legal conditions apply.

So, you can make home-brewed beer, cultivate mushrooms or run a flea circus 
without (much) fear of being arrested (depending on the mushrooms). I'd be more worried about the risk of infection to me or those around me unless you know what you are culturing, (which you probably do). As for creepy-crawlies, beware of the diseases
they might be carrying eg. Lyme's disease (from Ixodes ticks), Typhus (from Pediculus lice faeces) or "spotted fever" type diseases from ticks or rodent mites.

In summary, I wouldn't culture anything from people or animals (dead or even 
living ones). 

But then you'd know about safety from your stock culture days.
Good luck and don't catch anything (except for the creepy-crawlies). 

P.S. Have you thought of photographing plants or butterflies instead? 
Jim Denham-Vaughan 

Jim at Simdeva.demon.co.uk

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