Medical Definition of Biosafety level

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Biosafety level: A specific combination of work practices, safety equipment, and facilities which are designed to minimize the exposure of workers and the environment to infectious agents.

The biosafety levels are:

  • Level 1 -- This level applies to agents that do not ordinarily cause human disease.
  • Level 2 -- This level is appropriate for agents that can cause human disease, but whose potential for transmission is limited.
  • Level 3 -- This level applies to agents that may be transmitted by the respiratory route which can cause serious infection.
  • Level 4 -- This level is used for the diagnosis of exotic agents that pose a high risk of life-threatening disease, which may be transmitted by the aerosol route and for which there is no vaccine or therapy.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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