Technical and Anatomical Considerations for Reproducible Inactivation of Large Animal Carcasses by Steam Sterilization
Introduction: The complete inactivation of infectious tissues of large animal carcasses is one of the most challenging tasks in high-containment facilities. Steam sterilization is a method frequently in use to achieve biological inactivation of liquid and solid waste. Objective: This study aims to highlight parameters most effective in creating reproducible cycles for steam sterilization of pig and calf carcasses. Methods: Two pigs or 1 calf were sterilized by running a liquid cycle (n = 3) at 121°C for at least 120 minutes in a pass-through autoclave. To assess the physical and biological parameters, temperature data loggers and biological indicators (BIs) with spores of Geobacillus stearothermophilus (ATCC 7953) were placed at defined positions within animal carcasses. After completion of each cycle, data loggers were analyzed and BIs were incubated for 7 days at 60°C. Results: Initial testing with an undissected pig carcass resulted in suboptimal temperatures at the tissue level with growth on 1 BI. After modifications of the used stainless-steel boxes and by placing the reference probe of the autoclave in the animal carcass, reproducible cycles could be created. A complete inactivation of BIs and a temperature profile of >121°C for at least 20 minutes could be achieved in almost all probed tissues. Conclusion: Only minor modifications in carcass preparation and the used sterilization equipment resulted in effective and reproducible cycles to inactivate large animal carcasses by using a steam autoclave.