Laboratory Information for Bioterrorism Emergencies

laboratory worker looking into a microscope

Laboratory personnel play an important role in prevention and response for biological emergencies. Visit the links below to learn more about how to react effectively and safely during an emergency.

Learn more about the most common agents of concern.

Learn more about the most common agents of concern from CDC, the American Society for Microbiologyexternal icon (ASM), and the Association of Public Health Laboratoriesexternal icon (APHL).

Identify Unknown Agents.

If you are trying to determine what agent you are dealing with, start by reading the following resources:

Stay Safe in the Laboratory.

The proper laboratory techniques, safety equipment, and facilities will vary according to the biological agent. Biosafety Level 1 agents are well-characterized agents that are not know to consistently cause disease in healthy adults. These agents pose minimal potential hazard to the laboratory personnel and environment. In contrast, Biosafety Level 2 agents are associated with human disease. This chart provides guidelines for primary and secondary containment for biological agents according to their Biosafety Levels: Summary of Biosafety Level 1 & 2 for Infectious Agentspdf icon

Get connected.

The Laboratory Response Network (LRN) is the national network of local, state, and federal laboratories that respond to public health emergencies, including biological terrorism. Learn more about the LRN’s role in bioterrorism emergencies here.

The American Society of Microbiology offers specific protocols for standardized, practical methods to rule out suspected agents of bioterrorism, or to refer these specimens to public health laboratories for confirmation. Visit their website for more informationexternal icon.

The CDC Information Line is another important source of information. For more questions, call 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) or send an email here.

Page last reviewed: April 4, 2018