Guidelines for Research Involving Human Specimen Collection

Guidelines for Research Involving Human Specimen Collection

The following are biosafety recommendations for the collection of human specimens. Examples of human specimens collected at the University for research includes saliva, cheek swabs and blood. Human specimens have the potential to contain agents that can cause disease and are considered biohazardous. Some body fluids such as sweat and urine are not generally known to contain agents and not considered biohazardous. The processing or testing of biohazardous human specimens should be done at Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2).


Biosafety Practices for the Collection of Human Specimens

Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) will conduct an inspection of the lab

Researchers will be required to:

Collection of Saliva and Cheek/Mouth Swabs

While non-bloody saliva is not subject to the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard, there are biosafety concerns from pathogens other than Hepatitis viruses or HIV. In some cases, saliva may contain trace amounts of blood that are not directly visible to the eye. This may allow for the saliva to contain blood borne pathogens.

While the potential for saliva to cause disease is relatively low, saliva does have the ability to harbor a number of disease agents including:

  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Hepatitis virus
  • HIV
  • Herpes simplex
  • Human T-Lymphotropic virus (HTLV)
  • Influenza (including H1N1)
  • Malaria
  • Staphylococcus
  • Streptococcus
  • Tuberculosis
  • Rhinovirus (common cold)
  • Rabies

For this reason, it is recommended that research involving the collection human saliva and mouth swabs be conducted using the same biosafety practices for collecting human specimens.