Biosafety: Guidelines for Working with Pathogenic and Infectious Microorganisms

LouAnn C. Burnett1, George Lunn2, Richard Coico3

1 Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, 2 Baltimore, Maryland, 3 Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Publication Name:  Current Protocols in Microbiology
Unit Number:  Unit 1A.1
DOI:  10.1002/9780471729259.mc01a01s13
Online Posting Date:  May, 2009
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This unit, in conjunction with local and national guidelines and regulations (see APPENDIX 1B), provides the basic biosafety information needed to perform the procedures detailed in this manual. Topics discussed include routine precautions when working with biohazards, disinfectants, disposal of biohazards, biosafety levels (as established by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), animal facilities, and clinical laboratories. In addition, resources for more information are provided in the Literature Cited and Key References sections and in URLs given within the text, as well as the Internet Resources section. Curr. Protoc. Microbiol. 13:1A.1.1‐1A.1.14. © 2009 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Keywords: biosafety; biosafety levels; animal biosafety levels; biosafety guidelines; biosafety regulations; biohazards; pathogens; risk assessment

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Conducting Research Safely
  • General Biosafety Guidelines
  • Biosafety Levels
  • Animal Facilities
  • Clinical Laboratories
  • Literature Cited
  • Tables
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Literature Cited

   Baum, S., Lewis, A., Rowe, W., and Huebner, R. 1966. Epidemic nonmeningitic lymphocytic‐choriomeningitis‐virus infection. An outbreak in a population of laboratory personnel. N. Engl. J. Med. 274:934‐936.
   Enserink, M. and Kaiser, J. 2004. Accidental anthrax shipment spurs debate over safety. Science 304:1726‐1727.
   Hankenson, F.C., Johnston, N.A., Weigler, B.J., and Di Giacomo, R.F. 2003. Overview: Zoonoses of occupational health importance in contemporary laboratory animal research. Comparative Med. 53:579‐601.
   Holmes, G.P., Chapman, L.E., Stewart, J.A., Straus, S.E., Hilliard, J.K., Davenport, D.S., and the B Virus Working Group. 1995. Guidelines for the prevention and treatment of B‐virus infections in exposed persons. Clin. Infect. Dis. 20:421‐439.
   Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), Centers for Disease Control 1988. Update: Universal precautions for prevention of transmission of human immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis B virus and other bloodborne pathogens in healthcare settings. MMWR 37:377‐388.
   Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2002. Update: Cutaneous anthrax in a laboratory worker—Texas, 2002. MMWR 51:482.
   Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2005. Inadvertent Laboratory Exposure to Bacillus anthracis—California, 2004. MMWR 54:301‐304.
   National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards (NCCLS) 2005. Protection of Laboratory Workers from occupationally‐acquired infections. Approved Guideline, 3rd edition, Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute, Wayne, Pa.
   Normille, D. 2004. Mounting lab accidents raise SARS fears. Science 304:659‐661.
   Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), U.S. Department of Labor 1991. Occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, final rule. In Federal Register, Volume 56, pp. 64175‐64182. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C.
   Richmond, J.Y. 1994. HIV Biosafety: Guidelines and regulations. In AIDS Testing, 2nd Edition (G. Schochetman and J.R. George, eds.) pp. 346‐360. Springer‐Verlag, New York.
Key References
   Fleming, D.O. and Hunt, D.L. (eds.). 2006. Biological Safety: Principles and Practices, 4rd Edition. ASM Press, Washington, D.C.
  This is one of few comprehensive texts dedicated to the principles and practices of biosafety.
   U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). 2007. Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL), 5th Ed. 2007. (D.E. Wilson and L.C. Choosewood, eds.) U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
  This is a long‐standing compilation of biosafety guidelines that is developed by a diversity of experts and can be held generally as consensus best practices in the U.S. It is also available online at
Internet Resources
  OSHA Web site.
  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site.
  DOE OSH technical reference chapter on personal protective equipment.
  Online version of the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL), 5th Ed.
  The American Biological Safety Association (ABSA) Biosafety Guidelines Web site. This page provides links to international biosafety guidelines and websites.
  The European Biosafety Association homepage. In addition to being a source of information in and of itself, it is also host to the International Biosafety Working Group (IBWG), a compendium of international regulations and guidelines with descriptions and URLs. (Access by clicking International Biosafety from the menu bar on the top of the screen.
  The Material Safety Data Sheets for Infectious Substances, housed and maintained by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
  World Health Organization Laboratory Biosafety Manual, 3rd edition, 2004
  Public Health Agency of Canada, Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines, 3rd edition, 2004.
  NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules.
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