Precautions

When using these toxins, one should be aware that these are the most potent known poisons. Exposure is less a problem for TeTx since protection through immunization is easily available (most people in developed countries are immunized) and since the toxin is not taken up by the gastrointestinal tract. Care should be used in manipulating these toxins (particularly botulinum toxins, which can resist the acidic and protease-rich environment within the gastric juice when com-plexed with the hemagglutinating and non-toxic proteins) and in handling the material that has been in contact with them. Always use gloves, protective goggles and appropriate clothes.

After using toxins, wash every working surface with bleach, which is an efficient decontaminant. During the experiments, disposable materials should be used that can be eliminated as a biological hazard. As proteins, these toxins are heat labile and are completely inactivated by heating at 80°C for lOmin, i.e., conditions met by most standard decontamination treatments (heat autoclave) of medical infectious waste.

Clostridia are spore forming bacteria. Their spores are more resistant and higher temperatures for a longer time must be used for inac-tivation (autoclave for 1 h at 130°C). Refer to an appropriate laboratory safety book, and see also Chapter 20.

most potent poisons known

protective clothing and decontamination

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