Swine Influenza A (H1N1) Virus Biosafety Guidelines for Laboratory Workers

This guidance is for laboratory workers who may be processing or performing diagnostic testing on clinical specimens from patients with suspected swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection, or performing viral isolation.

Diagnostic laboratory work on clinical samples from patients who are suspected cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection should be conducted in a BSL2 laboratory. All sample manipulations should be done inside a biosafety cabinet (BSC).

Viral isolation on clinical specimens from patients who are suspected cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection should be performed in a BSL2 laboratory with BSL3 practices (enhanced BSL2 conditions).

Additional precautions include:

  • Recommended Personal Protective Equipment (based on site specific risk assessment )
  • Respiratory protection – fit-tested N95 respirator or higher level of protection. 
  • Shoe covers
  • Closed-front gown
  • Double gloves
  • Eye protection (goggles or face shields)


  • All waste disposal procedures should be followed as outlined in your facility standard laboratory operating procedures.

Appropriate disinfectants

  • 70% Ethanol
  • 5% Lysol
  • 10% Bleach

All personnel should self monitor for fever and any symptoms.  Symptoms of swine influenza infection include cough, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, runny nose, and muscle aches.  Any illness should be reported to your supervisor immediately.

For personnel who had unprotected exposure or a known breach in personal protective equipment to clinical material or live virus from a confirmed case of swine influenza A (H1N1), antiviral chemoprophylaxis with zanamivir or oseltamivir for 7 days after exposure can be considered.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is one of the 13 major operating components of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which is the principal agency in the United States government for protecting the health and safety of all Americans and for providing essential human services, especially for those people who are least able to help themselves.

Since it was founded in 1946 to help control malaria, CDC has remained at the forefront of public health efforts to prevent and control infectious and chronic diseases, injuries, workplace hazards, disabilities and environmental health threats.