BOX 5-1
Sampling and Handling Goals

  • Health and safety
  • Sufficiency of design
  • Analytical compatability
  • Preservation and integrity
  • Low cost and high efficiency
  • Documentation and training
  • Quality and transparency
  • Flexibility!

SOURCE: Hamilton presentation, 2013.

desirable. Spending $10 per collection kit for every sample is unrealistic; ideally it should cost pennies. Although compared to the cost of sequencing, $10 per collection kit may not seem unreasonable. However, it is possible that many samples will be collected on a routine basis, and it would be desirable to be more cost-effective by reducing the cost to a few cents. Lower cost collection devices would allow more samples to be collected and preserved for subsequent analyses, if warranted.

Documentation and training in how to conduct sampling missions are needed so that collection efforts can be delegated to people with other responsibilities or who may not be involved in the microbial forensic field at all (e.g., first responders). Cerys Rees of Porton Down in the United Kingdom noted that because first responders are often police or military personnel, results of sampling are much improved if the microbial forensic experts can advise the samplers before they begin to collect evidence. When the scientists are asked in advance for their recommendations for the sampling process, analytical results tend to be better. Also, when samplers are told what the scientists plan to do with the samples in the laboratory, they are better equipped to sample appropriately. Matts Forsman of the Swedish Defense Research Agency also related that in Sweden, first responders may include police, fire, and rescue squad personnel, but a specially trained bomb squad is then called in to sample, pack, and transport samples to the Swedish National Laboratory for Forensic Science.

Some generic sample matrices for evidence collection appear in Box 5-2. Microbial forensics incorporates both clinical and environmental samples, which in turn vary in size, shape, matrix, procedure, and method used to collect them. Portions or the entire sample or item may be collected. For example, the entire house of the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski,

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