Spores of fungus, Candida albicans

The long strands are the tubular filaments (hyphae) that have developed from the fungal spores. Yeast cells (rounded, yellow) are budding from the ends of the hyphae (red). Candida albicans causes the infection known as candidiasis which affects the moist mucous membranes of the body, such as skin folds, mouth, respiratory tract and vagina. Oral and vaginal conditions are known as thrush.

More about fungi

Risk assessment

School microbiology will generally be safe, but before any practical activity is undertaken, risks must be assessed.

Each individual (students, technicians or teachers) embarking on a practical activity is responsible for his or her health and safety and that of others affected by the work.

Risk assessment will involve comparing the steps involved in an intended activity with procedures suggested in model risk assessments. This will identify the safety precautions that need to be taken in the context of the level of work and, possibly, the need to amend the procedure so that the risks to health and safety from any hazard/s are minimised.

Local rules must also be complied with. Of greatest importance in risk assessment is a consideration of the skills and behaviour of the students about to tackle a practical activity; a procedure that is safe for one group of individuals may need to be modified with a different class.

Also important is ensuring that a procedure is safe for pupils, but also does not endanger the health and safety of technicians or teachers during preparation or disposal. In deciding on the appropriate precautions to adopt, it is prudent that all cultures are treated as potentially pathogenic (for example, because of possible contamination).

Emergency procedures, such as dealing with spills, should also be considered.

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