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Table 1 Examples of worldwide biological Risk Group classifications

From: Biosafety and biosecurity requirements for Orientia spp. diagnosis and research: recommendations for risk-based biocontainment, work practices and the case for reclassification to risk group 2

Country or regionRisk Group 1Risk Group 2Risk Group 3Risk Group 4
Australian/New Zealand Standard [16]Low individual and community risk
A microorganism that is unlikely to cause human or animal disease.
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,
Effective treatment and preventive measures are available, and the risk of spread is limited.
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.
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.
Belgium [17]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
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.
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.
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.
Canada [18]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 or animals, and a low risk to public health and the animal population.
Moderate individual risk, low community risk
A pathogen or toxin that poses a moderate risk to the health of individuals or animals, and a low risk to public health and the animal population.
These pathogens are able to cause serious disease in a human or animal but are unlikely to do so.
Effective treatment and preventive measures are available and the risk of spread of diseases caused by these pathogens is low.
High individual risk, low community risk
A pathogen that poses a high risk to the health of individuals 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 the animal population, however, can range from low to high depending on the pathogen.
High individual risk, high community risk
A pathogen that poses a high risk to the health of individuals 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 the animal population, however, ranges from low to high, depending on the pathogen.
European Economic Community
Directive 2000/54/EC and Directive 90/679/EEC [19]
Biological agent means one that is unlikely to cause human disease.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.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.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.
Germany [19]Biomaterials, where it is unlikely that they cause disease in humansBiomaterials 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
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
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.
United Kingdom [20]Unlikely to cause human diseaseCan 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.
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.
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