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Risk Group Database App
ABSA International’s
Risk Group
Database app
Now available for
Apple iOS and Android devices.


To download on your device search for “Risk Group Database” in Apple’s iTunes App Store or in the Google Play App store.

Thank you to our sponsor, BioRAFT


In many countries, including the United States, infectious agents are categorized in risk groups based on their relative risk. Depending on the country and/or organization, this classification system might take the following factors into consideration:

  • Pathogenicity of the organism
  • Mode of transmission and host range
  • Availability of effective preventive measures (e.g., vaccines)
  • Availability of effective treatment (e.g., antibiotics)
  • Other factors


*Please note, the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories, Fifth Edition. (2009) or “BMBL” outlines biological safety levels (BSLs), which are distinct from risk group levels. A proper risk assessment for biological agents must always be conducted before establishing a biological safety level.

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(search will sort by Species/Viral Group and show only top 500 matches)

You can search partial names using the asterisk (*)
Example: pseud*
(results: Pseudoalteromonas, pseudomycoides, Pseudallescheria, etc.)

You can use Boolean operators OR, AND
anthracis AND bacillus
anthracis OR bacillus

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Resources

CDC/NIH Guidelines (2009):

Four BSLs are described in Section 4, which consist of combinations of laboratory practices and techniques, safety equipment, and laboratory facilities. Each combination is specifically appropriate for the operations performed, the documented or suspected routes of transmission of the infectious agents, and the laboratory function or activity. The BSLs described in this manual should be differentiated from Risk Groups, as described in the NIH Guidelines and the World Health Organization Laboratory Biosafety Manual. Risk groups are the result of a classification of microbiological agents based on their association with, and resulting severity of, disease in humans. The risk group of an agent should be one factor considered in association with mode of transmission, procedural protocols, experience of staff, and other factors in determining the BSL in which the work will be conducted.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health. “Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories, Fifth Edition.”(2009).

Biosafety Level 1 (BSL 1): suitable for work involving well-characterized agents not known to consistently cause disease in immunocompetent adult humans, and present minimal potential hazard to laboratory personnel and the environment.

Biosafety Level 2 (BSL 2): builds upon BSL-1. BSL-2 is suitable for work involving agents that pose moderate hazards to personnel and the environment.

Biosafety Level 3 (BSL 3): applicable to clinical, diagnostic, teaching, research, or production facilities where work is performed with indigenous or exotic agents that may cause serious or potentially lethal disease through the inhalation route of exposure.

Biosafety Level 4 (BSL 4): dangerous and exotic agents that pose a high individual risk of aerosol-transmitted laboratory infections and life-threatening disease that is frequently fatal, for which there are no vaccines or treatments, or a related agent with unknown risk of transmission.

NIH Recombinant DNA Guidelines (USA, 2013)

November 2013. Appendix B. http://osp.od.nih.gov/sites/default/files/NIH_Guidelines.html

Risk Group 1 (RG1) Agents that are not associated with disease in healthy adult humans.

Risk Group 2 (RG2) Agents that are associated with human disease which is rarely serious and for which preventive or therapeutic interventions are often available

Risk Group 3 (RG3) Agents that are associated with serious or lethal human disease for which preventive or therapeutic interventions may be available (high individual risk but low community risk)

Risk Group 4 (RG4) Agents that are likely to cause serious or lethal human disease for which preventive or therapeutic interventions are not usually available (high individual risk and high community risk)

WHO Classification of Infective Microorganisms by Risk Group (2004)

WHO Basis for Risk Grouping: Each country classifies the agents in that country by risk group based on pathogenicity of the organism, modes of transmission and host range of the organism. These may be influenced by existing levels of immunity, density and movement of host population presence of appropriate vectors and standards of environmental hygiene.

  • Availability of effective preventive measures. Such measures may include: prophylaxis by vaccination or antisera; sanitary measures, e.g. food and water hygiene; the control of animal reservoirs or arthropod vectors; the movement of people or animals; and the importation of infected animals or animal products.
  • Availability of effective treatment. This includes passive immunization and post-exposure vaccination, antibiotics, and chemotherapeutic agents, taking into consideration the possibility of the emergence of resistant strains. It is important to take prevailing conditions in the geographical area in which the microorganisms are handled into account. Note: Individual governments may decide to prohibit the handling or importation of certain pathogens except for diagnostic purposes.


WHO Risk Group 1 (no or low individual and community risk). A microorganism that is unlikely to cause human disease or animal disease

WHO Risk Group 2 (moderate individual risk, low community risk). A pathogen that can cause human or animal disease but is unlikely to be a serious hazard to laboratory workers, the community, livestock or the environment. Laboratory exposures may cause serious infection, but effective treatment and preventative measures are available and the risk of spread of infection is limited.

WHO Risk Group 3 (high individual risk, low community risk). A pathogen that usually causes serious human or animal disease but does not ordinarily spread from one infected individual to another. Effective treatment and preventive measures are available.

WHO Risk Group 4 (high individual and community risk). A pathogen that usually causes serious human or animal disease and that can be readily transmitted from one individual to another, directly or indirectly. Effective treatment and preventive measures are not usually available.

Australian/New Zealand Standard (2010)

Standard AS-NZS 2243-3:2010. Safety in laboratories – Microbiological Safety and Containment

The following classification has been drawn up for microorganisms that are infectious for humans and animals for Australia and New Zealand by modification of the WHO guidelines and is based on the pathogenicity of the agent, the mode of transmission and host range of the agent, the availability of effective preventive measures, and the availability of effective treatment:

Risk Group 1 (low individual and community risk) – a microorganism that is unlikely to cause human or animal disease.

Risk Group 2 (moderate individual risk, limited community risk) – a microorganism that is unlikely to be a significant risk to laboratory workers, the community, livestock, or the environment; laboratory exposures may cause infections, but effective treatment and preventive measures are available, and the risk of spread is limited.

Risk Group 3 (high individual risk, limited to moderate community risk) – a microorganism that usually causes serious human or animal disease and may present a significant risk to laboratory workers. It could present a limited to moderate risk if spread in the community or the environment, but there are usually effective preventive measures or treatment available.

Risk Group 4 (high individual and community risk) – a microorganism that usually produces life-threatening human or animal disease, represents a significant risk to laboratory workers and may be readily transmissible from one individual to another. Effective treatment and preventive measures are not usually available.

Canadian Laboratory Safety Guidelines 1st edition, 2013

Risk Group 1 (low individual and community risk)
A microorganism, nucleic acid, or protein that is either a) not capable of causing human or animal disease; or b) capable of causing human or animal disease, but unlikely to do so. Those capable of causing disease are considered pathogens that pose a low risk to the health of individuals and/or animals, and a low risk to public health, livestock or poultry. RG1 pathogens can be opportunistic and may pose a threat to immunocompromised individuals. Neither of the RG1 subsets is regulated by the PHAC or the CFIA due to the low risk to public health, livestock or poultry. Nonetheless, due care should be exercised and safe work practices (e.g., good microbiological practices) should be followed when handling these materials.

Risk Group 2 (moderate individual risk, low community risk)
A pathogen that poses a moderate risk to the health of individuals and/or animals and a low risk to public health, livestock or poultry. These pathogens are able to cause serious disease in a human or animal but are unlikely to do so. Effective treatment and preventative measures are available and the risk of spread of diseases caused by these pathogens is low.

Risk Group 3 (high individual risk, low community risk)
A pathogen that poses a high risk to the health of individuals and/or animals and a low risk to public health. These pathogens are likely to cause serious disease in a human or animal. Effective treatment and preventive measures are usually available and the risk of spread of disease caused by these pathogens is low for the public. The risk of spread to livestock or poultry, however, can range from low to high depending on the pathogen.

Risk Group 4 (high individual risk, high community risk)
A pathogen that poses a high risk to the health of individuals and/or animals and a high risk to public health. These pathogens are likely to cause serious disease in a human or animal which can often lead to death. Effective treatment and preventive measures are not usually available and the risk of spread of disease caused by these pathogens is high for the public. The risk of spread of disease to livestock or poultry, however, ranges from low to high depending on the pathogen.

Belgium (2006)

Class of risk 1: micro-organisms known as nonpathogenic for the man, the animal, the plant and not-harmful for the environment or presenting a negligible risk for the man and the environment at the laboratory scale. This class includes, beside organisms whose harmlessness was proven, strains which can be allergens and opportunistic pathogens.
Human pathogens

Class of risk 2: micro-organisms that can cause human disease and might be a hazard for directly exposed persons; they are unlikely to spread to the community. There is usually effective prophylaxis or treatment available.

Class of risk 3: micro-organisms that can cause severe human disease and present a serious hazard for directly exposed persons. They may present a risk of spreading to the community. There is usually effective prophylaxis or treatment available.

Class of risk 4: micro-organisms that cause severe human disease and are a serious hazard for directly exposed persons. They may present a high risk of spreading to the community. There is usually no effective prophylaxis or treatment available.

Animal pathogens
Class of risk 2: micro-organisms that can cause disease in animals and present, at different levels, one or other of the following characteristics: limited geographical importance, no or weak interspecific transmission, no vectors or carriers. The economic and or veterinary significance is limited. There is usually effective prophylaxis or treatment available.

Class of risk 3: micro-organisms that can cause serious disease or epizootics in animals. Interspecific diffusion can be important. Some of these pathogenic agents require the installation of sanitary regulations for species indexed by the authorities of each country concerned. Medical and/or sanitary prophylactic measures are available.

Class of risk 4: micro-organisms that cause extremely serious panzotics or epizootics in animals with a very high mortality rate or dramatic economic consequences in the affected farming-regions. Either no medical prophylaxis is available or only one exclusive sanitary prophylaxis is possible or obligatory.

Plant pathogens
Class of risk 2: micro-organisms that can cause plant disease, but that does not present an increased risk of epidemic in the event of accidental dissemination in the Belgian environment. They are ubiquitous pathogens for whom prophylactic and therapeutic means exist. Nonindigenous or exotic phytopathogen micro-organisms which cannot survive in the Belgian environment because of absence of hosts or plant-targets, or favorable climatic conditions also belong to the class of risk 2.

Class of risk 3: micro-organisms that can cause in the plant a disease of economic or environmental importance for which treatments are non-existent, difficult to apply, or expensive. The accidental dissemination of these micro-organisms can increase the risks of local epidemics. Exotic stocks of micro-organisms usually present in the Belgian environment and not listed as quarantine micro-organisms also belong to this class of risk.

Germany (2013)

Risk Group 1: biomaterials, where it is unlikely that they cause disease in humans

Risk Group 2: biomaterials that can cause human disease and might be a hazard to workers; dispersal in the population is unlikely; effective prophylaxis or treatment is normally possible

Risk Group 3: biomaterials, which cause severe human disease and present a serious hazard to workers; the risk of spread to the community, but there is usually effective prophylaxis or treatment available

Risk Group 4: biological agents which cause severe human disease and are a serious hazard to workers; the risk of spread in the population is high under certain circumstances; there is usually no effective prophylaxis or treatment.

European Economic Community (2000)

Directive 2000/54/EC and Directive 90/679/EEC (adopted 20 November, 1990; revised 18 September 2000) on the protection of workers from risks related to exposure to biological agents at work provides for the Classification of biological agents into four infection risk groups on the basis of the following criteria:

Group 1 biological agent means one that is unlikely to cause human disease.

Group 2 biological agent means one that can cause human disease and might be a hazard to workers; it is unlikely to spread to the community; there is usually effective prophylaxis or treatment available.

Group 3 biological agent means one that can cause severe human disease and present a serious hazard to workers; it may present a risk of spreading to the community, but there is usually effective prophylaxis or treatment available.

Group 4 biological agent means one that causes severe human disease and is a serious hazard to workers; it may present a high risk of spreading to the community; there is usually no effective prophylaxis or treatment available.

(See also Official Journal of the European Communities No L262/21 dated September 18, 2000.) Article 2. Definitions; Article 18. Classification of biological agents; Annex III.Community Classification. Introductory Notes).

United Kingdom (2013)

Group 1 Unlikely to cause human disease.

Group 2 Can cause human disease and may be a hazard to employees; it is unlikely to spread to the community and there is usually effective prophylaxis or treatment available.

Group 3 Can cause severe human disease and may be a serious hazard to employees; it may spread to the community, but there is usually effective prophylaxis or treatment available.

Group 4 Causes severe human disease and is a serious hazard to employees; it is likely to spread to the community and there is usually no effective prophylaxis or treatment available

Risk Group Database

Abiotrophia, Acetivibrio, Acholeplasma, Achromobacter, Acidaminococcus, Acidovorax, Acinetobacter, Actinobacillus, Actinobaculum, Actinomadura, Actinomyces, Aegyptianella, Aerococcus, Aeromonas, Afipia, Alcaligenes, Alloiococcus, Allomonas, Alteromonas, Amycolata, Anaerobiospirillum, Anaerorhabdus, Anaplasma, Arachnia, Arcanobacterium, Arcobacter, Arizona, Arsenophonus, Arthrobacter, Atopobium, Bacillus, Bacteroides, Balneatrix, Bartonella, Beneckea, Bergeyella, Bifidobacterium, Bilophila, Bordetella, Borrelia, Brachyspira, Brevibacterium, Brevinema, Brevundimonas, Brucella, Burkholderia, Calymmatobacterium, Campylobacter, Capnocytophaga, Cardiobacterum, Carnobacterium, Catonella, Cedecea, Cellulomonas, Centipeda, Chlamydia, Chlamydophila, Chromobacterium, Chryseobacterium, Citrobacter, Clavibacter, Clostridium, Comamonas, Corynebacterium, Cowdria, Coxiella, Curtobacterium, Cytophaga, Dermatiphulus, Dermatophilus, Dialister, Dichelobacter, Dolosigranulum, Edwardsiella, Ehrlichia, Eikenella, Empedobacter, Enterobacter, Enterococcus, Eperythrozoon, Erlichia, Erwinia, Erysipelothrix, Escherichia, Eubacterium, Eurbacterium, Ewingella, Facklamia, Faenia, Falcivibrio, Flavobacterium, Flexibacter, Fluoribacter, Francisella, Fusobacterium, Gardnerella, Gemella, Genus, Globicatella, Gordonia, Haemobartonella, Haemophilus, Hafnia, Hallella, Hartmanella, Helcococcus, Helicobacter, Herellea, Johnsonella, Jonesia, Kingella, Klebsiella, Kluyvera, Koserella, Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, Lawsonia, Leclercia, Legionella, Leptospira, Levinea, Liberobacter, Listeria, Listonella, Mannheimia, Megasphaera, Melissococcus, Microvirgula, Mima, Mitsuokella, Mobiluncus, Moraxella, Moraxella (Branhamella), Morganella, Morococcus, Mycobacterium, Mycoplasma, Mycoplasma, Myroides, Neisseria, Neorickettsia, Nocardia, Nocardiopsis, Nocarida, Ochrobactrum, Oligella, Orienta, Ornithobacterium, Paenibacillus, Pantoea, Pasteurella, Peptococcus, Peptostreptococcus, Photobacterium, Piscirickettsia, Plesiomonas, Porphyromonas, Prevotella, Propionibacterium, Proteus, Providencia, Pseudoalteromonas, Pseudomonas, Pseudoramibacter, Psychrobacter, Ralstonia, Renibacterium, Rhodococcus, Rickettsia, Riemerella, Rochalimaea, Saccharopolyspora, Salmonella, Sanguibacter, Selenomonas, Serpulina, Serratia, Shewanella, Shigella, Sphaerophorus, Sphingobacterium, Sphingomonas, Spiroplasma, Sporichthya, Staphylococcus, Stenotrophomonas, Streptobacillus, Streptococcus, Streptomyces, Sutterella, Suttonella, Tatlockia, Tatumella, Taylorella, Tissierella, Treponema, Tsukamurella, Turicella, Ureaplasma, Vagococcus, Veillonella, Vibrio, Waddlia, Xanthomonas, Xylella, Xylophilus, ycoplasma, Yersinia

Search Database

Enter any name of agent (genus, species, viral group, virus name):
Human Pathogen:      Animal Pathogen:      Plant Pathogen:
Select Agent CDC:      Select Agent USDA:      

References

Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens. 2013. “The Approved List of biological agents” 3rd Edition. Health and Safety Executive – United Kingdom. http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/misc208.pdf

Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 2243.3:2010. “Safety in laboratories Part 3: Microbiological aspects and containment facilities”. https://law.resource.org/pub/nz/ibr/as-nzs.2243.3.2010.pdf

Biosafety and Biotechnology Unit. 2008. “Belgian classifications for micro-organisms based on their biological risks - Definitions”. http://www.biosafety.be/RA/Class/ClassBELdef.html

Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz. 2013. “Verordnung über Sicherheit und Gesundheitsschutz bei Tätigkeiten mit Biologischen Arbeitsstoffen (Biostoffverordnung - BioStoffV)”. http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/biostoffv_2013/BJNR251410013.html#BJNR251410013BJNG000500000

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention & Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Select Agent Program - Select Agents and Toxins. (2014). http://www.selectagents.gov/SelectAgentsandToxins.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2009. “Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories” 5th Edition. Government Printing Office http://www.cdc.gov/biosafety/publications/bmbl5/

European Union. 2000. Directive 2000/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 September 2000 on the protection of workers from risks related to exposure to biological agents at work.(seventh individual directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EC Official Journal of the European Communities L262/21. October 17, 2000 http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32000L0054

Government of Canada. Risk Groups, Containment Levels, and Risk Assessments. (2013). In Canadian Biosafety Standards (1st ed.). Government of Canada. http://canadianbiosafetystandards.collaboration.gc.ca/cbsg-nldcb/index-eng.php?page=12

National Institutes of Health. 2013. NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules (NIH Guidelines) 78 FR 66751 (November 6th, 2013), as amended. The current amended version of the NIH Guidelines can be accessed at: http://osp.od.nih.gov/sites/default/files/NIH_Guidelines.html

Singapore Ministry of Health. List of Biological Agents and Toxins. 2014. http://www.biosafety.moh.gov.sg/home/

World Health Organization. 2004. “Laboratory Biosafety Manual”. 3rd Edition. WHO, Geneva. http://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/biosafety/WHO_CDS_CSR_LYO_2004_11/en/index.html