[My Fun-o-Rama]

['I' for Information Page] Handling Leeches

Subject: Re: leeches
Date: Mon, 06 Sep 1999 04:32:07 GMT
From: J. Baskette <jbaskette@home.com>
Organization: @Home Network Canada
Newsgroups: sci.med.pharmacy
References: <37D17957.6409@pilot.infi.net>

On Sat, 04 Sep 1999 12:56:07 -0700, mokath <obrianm@pilot.infi.net> wrote:

>Hey out there: Does anyone have a policy/procedure for the care and
>keeping of medicinal leeches in their hospital (or community )
>pharmacy?. These critters are expensive and we usually end up with a
>surplus at the end of [therapy]. My infection control officer wants a
>policy to insure that they remain free from infection if I continue to
>keep them on premises between cases. Thanks in advance for any info you
>may have.

Leeches are purchased, stored, and dispensed much the same as medications with some notable exceptions.

Leeches are kept in a double bucket system available from the supplier. The container is filled with 4L of purified water (no chlorine) and with 2 g of salt available from the supplier. Leeches are stored in the refrigerator (not less than 4 degrees celsius). Leeches are stored on the floor at room temperature (up to 20 degrees celsius) as this increases their "activity". The water is changed every 48 hours initially for a week, then weekly thereafter. The old water is poured down the drain, followed by a small amount of bleach and plenty of hot water.

New leeches are not mixed with old leeches. After dispensing, leeches are treated as biohazardous waste. Leeches are dispensed by pharmacy on a daily basis and are disposed of in isopropyl alcohol 70% then into biohazard waste bins. Leeches are NOT returned to pharmacy after they have been applied to the patient.

Personel handling leeches should be gloved (leeches haven't bitten anyone who has been gloved). If a leech were to bite someone prior to dispensing it must be destroyed as biohazardous waste.

Gauze is an effective means of handling leeches as they can't stick to it very well (unlike most other substances).

Using the above protocol, leeches have been successfully kept for over 6 months. If anyone has any other suggestions, they would be appreciated.

J. Baskette

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