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Collecting and Handling Evidence Infected With Human Disease-Causing Organisms

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 56 Issue: 7 Dated: (June 1987) Pages: 1-5
P D Bigbee
Date Published
5 pages
Law enforcement officers and crime scene technicians need to take specific precautions when collecting and handling evidence that is stained with blood or other body fluids, because these fluids are increasingly likely to contain infectious organisms of diseases like Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis B, and tuberculosis.
Law enforcement officers should always assume that blood and other body fluids are potentially infectious, regardless of the source. Investigators need first to protect their hands and keep them clean, and away from the eyes, mouth, and nose. Disposable gloves are the best protection. Protective coverings should also be considered for shoes. Surgical masks and protective eyewear should be considered if the eyes or face may be struck by blood particles. Investigators should also be alert for sharp objects like hypodermic needles when checking the crime scene. Any accidental cuts from sharp objects should be cleaned immediately. Household bleach dissolved in water should be used to decontaminate items like cameras and notebooks. Evidence that has been properly dried and packaged should be labeled as potentially infectious. The FBI has set conditions for accepting AIDS cases for analysis and is conducting research into the feasibility of using gamma radiation to sterilize forensic evidence. Investigators whose laboratories will not process blood or body fluids from AIDS cases should ask the laboratory for the names and addresses of other laboratories that will. 14 footnotes.