Looking for a paper that demonstrates the need for gloves to prevent contam. - (Nov/24/2010 )
Just a thought...would dousing your gloves with 70% ethanol curb contamination? We are required to wash our gloves before touching anything in our TC room...incubators, reagents, cells, everything! Would that help with a fungal infection?
Well, we've narrowed it down somewhat. What I think now is that the contamination is not occurring during the actual cell culturing, but is getting into the cultures while they are in the incubator. The only thing that seems to help is more frequent incubator cleaning. On some flasks I can see fungus growing on the outside of the flask and up the neck. I clean all my flasks with ethanol before I put them back in the incubator, but if the incubator goes too long between cleanings, the flasks randomly pop up with contamination, and it's always in the neck and cap. Because the incubators have a sterilization cycle, I suspect that fungus is being reintroduced into the incubators between cleanings, but maybe the "sterilization cycle" is just a misnomer.
The Corning bulletin describes exactly this situation (fungus growing into long-term cultures from the outside of the flask)...thank you, it's the first thing I have seen that matches our problem so closely and that actually says that skin cells and things sloughing off your hands and sleeves may contain contaminants. I'm going to start ethanoling off the incubator door & handle before I open it so I'm not transferring stuff onto my flasks from people who open the incubator without gloves. Right now I also have to carry cells between three different rooms so those door handles could easily be a source of contamination as well. I'm just going to start ethanoling the heck out of everything including my gloves.
Thanks everybody for the link and the suggestions!
Make sure you change labcoats for clean ones often--just wearing a labcoat isn't helpful if it is covered in spores!