3.1.8. What are the minimum requirements for laboratories performing basic rabies diagnosis?

Laboratory work with rabies virus poses a certain risk to the health of the staff and the environment, therefore efforts should be made to minimize the risk of exposure to infectious material (to prevent human disease) and of possible release into the environment. When new laboratories are being established, it would be prudent to seek advice from the relevant national regulatory and competent international authorities (e.g. OIE). For rabies, laboratory-associated rabies infections are extremely rare. Vaccination is required for all technicians and is protective. In appropriately trained laboratories, testing of suspected rabid dead animals does not pose a high risk for further spread of the disease. Therefore, although biosafety level 3** (BSL) laboratories are preferable, BSL2 laboratories (click here for a schematic view of a BSL2 laboratory) are adequate with at least the following requirements:

- Vaccination of laboratory staff and monitoring of immunity according to WHO recommendations.

- Separate laboratory for handling and storing rabies infected tissues.

- Limited access to laboratory (authorised staff only).

- Entering of rabies laboratory through dressing room (change of laboratory clothes when entering and leaving the rabies laboratory) and use of additional personal protective equipment in the laboratory (e.g. glasses, masks and gloves).

Click here for information on the equipment, supplies and protocols needed in the rabies laboratory and here to read more about international recommendations for laboratory biosafety and biosecurity.

OIE = World Organisation for Animal Health
BSL = Biosafety level
WHO = World Health Organization

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Version 4 - last updated May 2017