7.4 Invertebrate Animal BIOSAFETY

“Arthropod Containment Guidelines” were published in Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases and are referenced in the BMBL, 5th Edition, 2007, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Sections of the guidelines specifically mentioned in the BMBL include:

  • The Principles of Risk Assessment that discusses arthropods in the context of those known to contain a pathogenic agent, those with uncertain pathogens and those with no agent.
  • Biological containment as a significant factor that reduces the hazards associated with accidental escape of arthropods.
  • Epidemiological context altering the risks of an escape and its impact on the location/site in which work is performed.
  • Genetically modified arthropods with an emphasis on phenotypic change.
  • Four arthropod containment levels (ACL 1-4) which follow similar form to the biosafety and animal biosafety levels addressed in the BMBL5, i.e., standard practices, special practices, equipment and facilities.

Certain criteria have also been set forth by the WHO (World Health Organization) regarding arthropod use in research experiments, which includes:

  • Separate rooms be provided for infected and non-infected invertebrates.
  • The rooms should be capable of being sealed for fumigation.
  • Insecticide sprays should be readily available.
  •  “Chilling” facilities should be provided to reduce, where necessary, the activity of invertebrates.
  • Access should be through an anteroom containing insect traps and with arthropod-proof screens on the doors.
  • All exhaust ventilation ducts and windows (if operable) should be fitted with arthropod-proof screens.
  • Waste traps on sinks and sluices should not be allowed to dry out.
  • All waste should be decontaminated by autoclaving, as some invertebrates are not killed by all disinfectants.
  • A check should be kept on the numbers of larval and adult forms of flying, crawling and jumping arthropods.
  • Containers for ticks and mites should stand in trays of oil.
  • Infected or potentially infected flying insects must be contained in double-netted cages.
  • Infected or potentially infected arthropods must be handled in biological safety cabinets or isolators.
  • Infected or potentially infected arthropods may be manipulated on cooling trays.

Additional references for arthropod containment and facility design include:

  1. The American Committee of Medical Entomology of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.  Arthropod Containment Guidelines Version 3.1.
  2. The Subcommittee on arthropod-borne viruses.  Laboratory safety for arboviruses and certain other viruses of vertebrates.  American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 1980, 29:1359-1381.
  3. National Research Council.  Occupational health and safety in the care and use of research animals.  Washington, DC, National Academy Press, 1997.
  4. Richmond JY, Quimby F.  Considerations for working safely with infectious disease agents in research animals.  In: Zak O, Sande MA, eds.  Handbook of animal models of infection.  London, Academic Press, 1999:69-74

    If you have any questions regarding vertebrate or invertebrate biosafety levels, please call EHS’s Biosafety Office at 335-8501