Biological Safety Manual - Chapter 08: Agent Summary Statements (Section VII: Toxin Agents)

Title

Biological Safety Manual - Chapter 08: Agent Summary Statements (Section VII: Toxin Agents)

Table of Contents

  1. Agent: Botulinum Neurotoxin
  2. Agent: Staphylococcal enterotoxins (SE)
  3. Agent: Ricin Toxin
  4. Agent: Selected Low Molecular Weight (LMW) Toxins
  5. References

Agent: Botulinum Neurotoxin

Seven immunologically distinct serotypes of Botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) have been isolated (A, B, C1, D, E, F and G). Each BoNT holotoxin is a disulfide-bonded heterodimer composed of a zinc metallo-protease "light chain" (approximately 50 kD) and a receptor binding "heavy chain" (approximately 100 kD). The heavy chain enhances cell binding and translocation of the catalytic light chain across the vesicular membrane.1 There are also a number of important accessory proteins that can stabilize the natural toxin complex in biological systems or in buffer.

Four of the serotypes (A, B, E and, less commonly, F) are responsible for most human poisoning through contaminated food, wound infection, or infant botulism, whereas livestock may be at greater risk for poisoning with serotypes B, C1 and D.2,3 It is important to recognize, however, that all BoNT serotypes are highly toxic and lethal by injection or aerosol delivery. BoNT is one of the most toxic proteins known; absorption of less than one microgram (µg) of BoNT can cause severe incapacitation or death, depending upon the serotype and the route of exposure.

Diagnosis of Laboratory Exposures

Botulism is primarily clinically diagnosed through physician observations of signs and symptoms that are similar for all serotypes and all routes of intoxication.4 There typically is a latency of several hours to days, depending upon the amount of toxin absorbed, before the signs and symptoms of BoNT poisoning occur. The first symptoms of exposure generally include blurred vision, dry mouth and difficulty swallowing and speaking. This is followed by a descending, symmetrical flaccid paralysis, which can progress to generalized muscle weakness and respiratory failure. Sophisticated tests such as nerve conduction studies and single-fiber electromyography can support the diagnosis and distinguish it from similar neuromuscular conditions. Routine laboratory tests are of limited value because of the low levels of BoNT required to intoxicate, as well as the delay in onset of symptoms.

Laboratory Safety

Solutions of sodium hypochlorite (0.1%) or sodium hydroxide (0.1N) readily inactivate the toxin and are recommended for decontamination of work surfaces and for spills. Additional considerations for the safe use and inactivation of toxins of biological origin are found in Chapter 17. Because Neurotoxin producing Clostridia species requires an anaerobic environment for growth and it is essentially not transmissible among individuals, exposure to pre-formed BoNT is the primary concern for laboratory workers. Two of the most significant hazards in working with BoNT or growing Neurotoxin producing Clostridia species cultures are unintentional aerosol generation, especially during centrifugation, and accidental needle-stick. Although BoNT does not penetrate intact skin, proteins can be absorbed through broken or lacerated skin and, therefore, BoNT samples or contaminated material should be handled with gloves.

Workers in diagnostic laboratories should be aware that Neurotoxin producing Clostridia pecies or its spores can be stable for weeks or longer in a variety of food products, clinical samples (e.g., serum, feces) and environmental samples (e.g. soil). Stability of the toxin itself will depend upon the sterility, temperature, pH and ionic strength of the sample matrix, but useful comparative data are available from the food industry. BoNT retains its activity for long periods of time (at least 6-12 months) in a variety of frozen foods, especially under acidic conditions (pH 4.5-5.0) and/or high ionic strength, but the toxin is readily inactivated by heating.5

A documented incident of laboratory intoxication with BoNT occurred in workers who were performing necropsies on animals that had been exposed 24 h earlier to aerosolized BoNT serotype A; the laboratory workers presumably inhaled aerosols generated from the animal fur. The intoxications were relatively mild, and all affected individuals recovered after a week of hospitalization.6 Despite the low incidence of laboratory-associated botulism, the remarkable toxicity of BoNT necessitates that laboratory workers exercise caution during all experimental procedures.

Containment Recommendations

BSL-2 practices, containment equipment, and facilities are recommended for routine dilutions, titrations or diagnostic studies with materials known to contain or have the potential to contain BoNT. Additional primary containment and personnel precautions, such as those recommended for BSL-3, should be implemented for activities with a high potential for aerosol or droplet production, or for those requiring routine handling of larger quantities of toxin.

Personnel not directly involved in laboratory studies involving botulinum toxin, such as maintenance personnel, should be discouraged from entering the laboratory when BoNT is in use until after the toxin and all work surfaces have been decontaminated. Purified preparations of toxin components, e.g. isolated BoNT “light chains” or “heavy chains,” should be handled as if contaminated with holotoxin unless proven otherwise by toxicity bioassays.

Special Issues

Vaccines

A pentavalent (A, B, C, D and E) botulinum toxoid vaccine (PBT) is available through the CDC as an IND. Vaccination is recommended for all personnel working in direct contact with cultures of neurotoxin producing Clostridia species or stock solutions of BoNT. Due to a possible decline in the immunogenicity of available PBT stocks for some toxin serotypes, the immunization schedule for the PBT recently has been modified to require injections at 0, 2, 12, and 24 weeks, followed by a booster at 12 months and annual boosters thereafter. Since there is a possible decline in vaccine efficacy, the current vaccine contains toxoid for only 5 of the 7 toxin types, this vaccine should not be considered as the sole means of protection and should not replace other worker protection measures.

Select Agent

Botulinum toxin is a Select Agent requiring registration with CDC and/or USDA for possession, use, storage and/or transfer if quantities are above the minimum exemption level. See Chapter 14 for additional information.

Transfer of Agent

Importation of this agent may require CDC and/or USDA importation permits. Domestic transport of this agent may require a permit from USDA/APHIS/VS. A DoC permit may be required for the export of this agent to another country. See Chapter 11 for additional information.

Agent: Staphylococcal enterotoxins (SE)

SE are a group of closely related extracellular protein toxins of 23 to 29 kD molecular weight that are produced by distinct gene clusters found in a wide variety of S. aureus strains.8,9SE belong to a large family of homologous pyrogenic exotoxins from staphylococci, streptococci and mycoplasma which are capable of causing a range of illnesses in man through pathological amplification of the normal T-cell receptor response, cytokine/lymphokine release, immunosuppression and endotoxic shock.9,10

SE serotype A (SEA) is a common cause of severe gastroenteritis in humans.11 It has been estimated from accidental food poisoning that exposure to as little as 0.05 to 1 µg SEA by the gastric route causes incapacitating illness.12-15 Comparative human toxicity for different serotypes of SE is largely unknown, but human volunteers exposed to 20-25 µg SE serotype B (SEB) in distilled water experienced enteritis similar to that caused by SEA.16

SE are highly toxic by intravenous and inhalation routes of exposure. By inference from accidental exposure of laboratory workers and controlled experiments with NHP, it has been estimated that inhalation of less than 1 ng/kg SEB can incapacitate more than 50% of exposed humans, and that the inhalation LD50 in humans may be as low as 20 ng/kg SEB.17

Exposure of mucous membranes to SE in a laboratory setting has been reported to cause incapacitating gastrointestinal symptoms, conjunctivitis and localized cutaneous swelling.18

Diagnosis of Laboratory Exposures

Diagnosis of SE intoxication is based on clinical and epidemiologic features. Gastric intoxication with SE begins rapidly after exposure (1-4 h) and is characterized by severe vomiting, sometimes accompanied by diarrhea, but without a high fever. At higher exposure levels, intoxication progresses to hypovolemia, dehydration, vasodilatation in the kidneys, and lethal shock.11

While fever is uncommon after oral ingestion, inhalation of SE causes a marked fever and respiratory distress. Inhalation of SEB causes a severe, incapacitating illness of rapid onset (3-4 h) lasting 3 to 4 days characterized by high fever, headache, and a nonproductive cough; swallowing small amounts of SE during an inhalation exposure may result in gastric symptoms as well.19

Differential diagnosis of SE inhalation may be unclear initially because the symptoms are similar to those caused by several respiratory pathogens such as influenza, adenovirus, and mycoplasma.

Naturally occurring pneumonias or influenza, however, would typically involve patients presenting over a more prolonged interval of time, whereas SE intoxication tends to plateau rapidly, within a few hours. Nonspecific laboratory findings of SE inhalation include a neutrophilic leukocytosis, an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and chest X-ray abnormalities consistent with pulmonary edema.19

Laboratory confirmation of intoxication includes SE detection by immunoassay of environmental and clinical samples, and gene amplification to detect staphylococcal genes in environmental samples. SE may be undetectable in the serum at the time symptoms occur; nevertheless, a serum specimen should be drawn as early as possible after exposure. Data from animal studies suggest the presence of SE in the serum or urine is transient. Respiratory secretions and nasal swabs may demonstrate the toxin early (within 24 h of inhalation exposure). Evaluation of neutralizing antibody titers in acute and convalescent sera of exposed individuals can be undertaken, but may yield false positives resulting from pre-existing antibodies produced in response to natural SE exposure.

Laboratory Safety

General considerations for the safe use and inactivation of toxins of biological origin are found in Chapter 17. Accidental ingestion, parenteral inoculation, and droplet or aerosol exposure of mucous membranes are believed to be the primary hazards of SE for laboratory and animal-care personnel. SE are relatively stable, monomeric proteins, readily soluble in water, and resistant to proteolytic degradation and temperature fluctuations. The physical/chemical stability of SE suggests that additional care must be taken by laboratory workers to avoid exposure to residual toxin that may persist in the environment.

Active SE toxins may be present in clinical samples, lesion fluids, respiratory secretions, or tissues of exposed animals. Additional care should be taken during necropsy of exposed animals or in handling clinical stool samples because SE toxins retain toxic activity throughout the digestive tract.

Accidental laboratory exposures to SE serotype B have been reviewed.18 Documented accidents included inhalation of SE aerosols generated from pressurized equipment failure, as well as reaerosolization of residual toxin from the fur of exposed animals. The most common cause of laboratory intoxication with SE is expected to result from accidental self-exposure via the mucous membranes by touching contaminated hands to the face or eyes.

Containment Recommendations

BSL-2 practices and containment equipment and facilities should be used when handling SE or potentially contaminated material. Because SE is highly active by the oral or ocular exposure route, the use of a laboratory coat, gloves and safety glasses is mandatory when handling toxin or toxin-contaminated solutions. Frequent and careful hand-washing and laboratory decontamination should be strictly enforced when working with SE. Depending upon a risk assessment of the laboratory operation, the use of a disposable face mask may be required to avoid accidental ingestion.

BSL-3 facilities, equipment, and practices are indicated for activities with a high potential for aerosol or droplet production and those involving the use of large quantities of SE.

Special Issues

Vaccines

No approved vaccine or specific antidote is currently available for human use, but experimental, recombinant vaccines are under development.

Select Agent

SE is a Select Agent requiring registration with CDC and/or USDA for possession, use, storage and/or transfer. See Chapter 14 for additional information.

Transfer of Agent

Importation of this agent may require CDC and/or USDA importation permits. Domestic transport of this agent may require a permit from USDA/APHIS/VS. A DoC permit may be required for the export of this agent to another country. See Chapter 11 for additional information.

Agent: Ricin Toxin

Ricin is produced in maturing seeds of the castor bean, Ricinus communis, which has been recognized for centuries as a highly poisonous plant for humans and livestock.20 Ricin belongs to a family of ribosome inactivating proteins from plants, including abrin, modeccin, and viscumin, that share a similar overall structure and mechanism of action.21 The ricin holotoxin is a disulfide-bonded heterodimer composed of an A-chain (approximately 34 kD polypeptide) and a B-chain (approximately 32 kD). The A-chain is an N-glycosidase enzyme and a potent inhibitor of protein synthesis, whereas the B-chain is a relatively non-toxic lectin that facilitates toxin binding and internalization to target cells.20

Ricin is much less toxic by weight than is BoNT or SE, and published case reports suggest that intramuscular or gastric ingestion of ricin is rarely fatal in adults.22 Animal studies and human poisonings suggest that the effects of ricin depend upon the route of exposure, with inhalation and intravenous exposure being the most toxic. In laboratory mice, for example, the LD50 by intravenous injection is about 5 µg/kg, whereas it is 20 mg/kg by intragastric route.23,24 The ricin aerosol LD50 for NHP is estimated to be 10-15 µg/kg.17 The human lethal dose has not been established rigorously, but may be as low as 1-5 mg of ricin by injection25 or by the aerosol route (extrapolation from two species of NHP).

Diagnosis of Laboratory Exposures

The primary diagnosis is through clinical manifestations that vary greatly depending upon the route of exposure. Following inhalation exposure of NHP, there is typically a latency period of 24-72 h that may be characterized by loss of appetite and listlessness. The latency period progresses rapidly to severe pulmonary distress, depending upon the exposure level. Most of the pathology occurs in the lung and upper respiratory tract, including inflammation, bloody sputum, and pulmonary edema. Toxicity from ricin inhalation would be expected to progress despite treatment with antibiotics, as opposed to an infectious process. There would be no mediastinitis as seen with inhalation anthrax. Ricin patients would not be expected to plateau clinically as occurs after inhalation of SEB.

Gastric ingestion of ricin causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and dehydration. Initial symptoms may appear more rapidly following gastric ingestion (1-5 h), but generally require exposure to much higher levels of toxin compared with the inhalation route. Following intramuscular injection of ricin, symptoms may persist for days and include nausea, vomiting, anorexia, and high fever. The site of ricin injection typically shows signs of inflammation with marked swelling and induration. One case of poisoning by ricin injection resulted in fever, vomiting, irregular blood pressure, and death by vascular collapse after a period of several days; it is unclear in this case if the toxin was deposited intramuscularly or in the bloodstream.25

Specific immunoassay of serum and respiratory secretions or immunohistochemical stains of tissue may be used where available to confirm a diagnosis. Ricin is an extremely immunogenic toxin, and paired acute and convalescent sera should be obtained from survivors for measurement of antibody response. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) can detect residual castor bean DNA in most ricin preparations. Additional supportive clinical or diagnostic features, after aerosol exposure to ricin, may include the following: bilateral infiltrates on chest radiographs, arterial hypoxemia, neutrophilic leukocytosis, and a bronchial aspirate rich in protein.24

Laboratory Safety

General considerations for the safe use and inactivation of toxins of biological origin are found in Chapter 17. Precautions should be extended to handling potentially contaminated clinical, diagnostic and post-mortem samples because ricin may retain toxicity in the lesion fluids, respiratory secretions, or unfixed tissues of exposed animals.

When the ricin A-chain is separated from the B-chain and administered parenterally to animals, its toxicity is diminished by >1,000-fold compared with ricin holotoxin.26 However, purified preparations of natural ricin A-chain or B-chain, as well as crude extracts from castor beans, should be handled as if contaminated by ricin until proven otherwise by bioassay.

Containment Recommendations

BSL-2 practices, containment equipment and facilities are recommended, especially a laboratory coat, gloves, and respiratory protection, when handling ricin toxin or potentially contaminated materials.

Ricin is a relatively non-specific cytotoxin and irritant that should be handled in the laboratory as a non-volatile toxic chemical. A BSC (Class II, Type B1 or B2) or a chemical fume hood equipped with an exhaust HEPA filter and charcoal filter are indicated for activities with a high potential for aerosol, such as powder samples, and the use of large quantities of toxin. Laboratory coat, gloves, and full face respirator should be worn if there is a potential for creating a toxin aerosol.

Special Issues

Vaccines

No approved vaccine or specific antidote is currently available for human use, but experimental, recombinant vaccines are under development.

Select Agent

Ricin toxin is a Select Agent requiring registration with CDC and/or USDA for possession, use, storage and/or transfer. See Chapter 14 for additional information.

Transfer of Agent

Importation of this agent may require CDC and/or USDA importation permits. Domestic transport of this agent may require a permit from USDA/APHIS/VS. A DoC permit may be required for the export of this agent to another country. See Chapter 11 for additional information.

Agent: Selected Low Molecular Weight (LMW) Toxins

LMW toxins comprise a structurally and functionally diverse class of natural poisons, ranging in size from several hundred to a few thousand daltons that includes complex organic structures, as well as disulfide cross-linked- and cyclic-polypeptides. Tremendous structural diversity may occur within a particular type of LMW toxin, often resulting in incomplete toxicological or pharmacological characterization of minor isoforms. Grouping LMW toxins together has primarily been a means of distinguishing them from protein toxins with respect to key biophysical characteristics. Compared with proteins, the LMW toxins are of smaller size, which alters their filtration and biodistribution properties, are generally more stable and persistent in the environment, and may exhibit poor water-solubility necessitating the use of organic solvent; these characteristics pose special challenges for safe handling, containment, and decontamination of LMW toxins within the laboratory.

The set of LMW toxins selected for discussion herein are employed routinely as laboratory reagents, and/or have been designated as potential public health threats by the CDC, including: T-2 mycotoxin produced by Fusarium fungi;27,28 saxitoxin and related paralytic shellfish poisons produced by dinoflagellates of the Gonyaulax family;29 tetrodotoxin from a number of marine animals,30 brevetoxin from the dinoflagellate Ptychodiscus brevis;31 palytoxin from marine coelenterates belonging to the genus Palythoa,32 polypeptide conotoxins a-GI (includes GIA) and a-MI from the Conus genus of gastropod mollusks;33 and the monocyclic polypeptide, microcystin-LR from freshwater cyanobacteria Microcystis aeruginosa.34

Trichothecene mycotoxins comprise a broad class of structurally complex, non-volatile sesquiterpene compounds that are potent inhibitors of protein synthesis.27,28 Mycotoxin exposure occurs by consumption of moldy grains, and at least one of these toxins, designated "T-2," has been implicated as a potential biological warfare agent.27 T-2 is a lipid-soluble molecule that can be absorbed into the body rapidly through exposed mucosal surfaces.35 Toxic effects are most pronounced in metabolically active target organs and include emesis, diarrhea, weight loss, nervous disorder, cardiovascular alterations, immunodepression, hemostatic derangement, bone marrow damage, skin toxicity, decreased reproductive capacity, and death.27 The LD50 for T-2 in laboratory animals ranges from 0.2 to 10 mg/kg, depending on the route of exposure, with aerosol toxicity estimated to be 20 to 50 times greater than parenteral exposure.17,27 Of special note, T-2 is a potent vesicant capable of directly damaging skin or corneas. Skin lesions, including frank blisters, have been observed in animals with local, topical application of 50 to 100 ng of toxin.27,35

Saxitoxin and tetrodotoxin are paralytic marine toxins that interfere with normal function of the sodium channel in excitable cells of heart, muscle and neuronal tissue.36 Animals exposed to 1-10 µg/kg toxin by parenteral routes typically develop a rapid onset of excitability, muscle spasm, and respiratory distress; death may occur within 10-15 minutes from respiratory paralysis.29,37 Humans ingesting seafood contaminated with saxitoxin or tetrodotoxin show similar signs of toxicity, typically preceded by paresthesias of the lips, face and extremities.36,38

Brevetoxins are cyclic-polyether, paralytic shellfish neurotoxins produced by marine dinoflagellates that accumulate in filter-feeding mollusks and may cause human intoxication from ingestion of contaminated seafood, or by irritation from sea spray containing the toxin.36 The toxin depolarizes and opens voltage-gated sodium ion channels, effectively making the sodium channel of affected nerve or muscle cells hyper-excitable. Symptoms of human ingestion are expected to include paresthesias of the face, throat and fingers or toes, followed by dizziness, chills, muscle pains, nausea, gastroenteritis, and reduced heart rate. Brevetoxin has a parenteral LD50 of 200 µg/kg in mice and guinea pigs.31 Guinea pigs exposed to a slow infusion of brevetoxin develop fatal respiratory failure within 30 minutes of exposure to 20 µg/kg toxin.37

Palytoxin is a structurally complex, articulated fatty acid associated with soft coral Palythoa vestitus that is capable of binding and converting the essential cellular Na+/K+ pump into a nonselective cation channel.32,39 Palytoxin is among the most potent coronary vasoconstrictors known, killing animals within minutes by cutting off oxygen to the myocardium.40 The LD50 for intravenous administration ranges from 0.025 to 0.45 µg/kg in different species of laboratory animals.40 Palytoxin is lethal by several parenteral routes, but it is about 200-fold less toxic if administered to the alimentary tract (oral or rectal) compared with intravenous administration.40 Palytoxin disrupts normal corneal function and causes irreversible blindness at topically applied levels of approximately 400 ng/kg, despite extensive rinsing after ocular instillation.40

Conotoxins are polypeptides, typically 10-30 amino acids long and stabilized by distinct patterns of disulfide bonds, that have been isolated from the toxic venom of marine snails and shown to be neurologically active or toxic in mammals.33 Of the estimated >105 different polypeptides (conopeptides) present in venom of over 500 known species of Conus, only a few have been rigorously tested for animal toxicity. Of the isolated conotoxin subtypes that have been analyzed to date, at least two post-synaptic paralytic toxins, designated a-GI (includes GIA) and a-MI, have been reported to be toxic in laboratory mice with LD50 values in the range of 10- 100 µg/kg depending upon the species and route of exposure.

Workers should be aware, however, that human toxicity of whole or partially fractionated Conus venom, as well as synthetic combinations of isolated conotoxins, may exceed that of individual components. For example, untreated cases of human poisoning with venom of C. geographus result in an approximately 70% fatality rate, probably as a result of the presence of mixtures of various α- and µ-conotoxins with common or synergistic biological targets.33,41 The α-conotoxins act as potent nicotinic antagonists and the µ-conotoxins block the sodium channel.33 Symptoms of envenomation depend upon the Conus species involved, generally occur rapidly after exposure (minutes), and range from severe pain to spreading numbness.42 Severe intoxication results in muscle paralysis, blurred or double vision, difficulty breathing and swallowing, and respiratory or cardiovascular collapse.42

Microcystins (also called cyanoginosins) are monocyclic heptapeptides composed of specific combinations of L-, and D-amino acids, some with uncommon side chain structures, that are produced by various freshwater cyanobacteria.43 The toxins are potent inhibitors of liver protein phosphatase type 1 and are capable of causing massive hepatic hemorrhage and death.43 One of the more potent toxins in this family, microcystin-LR, has a parenteral LD50 of 30 to 200 µg/kg in rodents.34 Exposure to microcystin-LR causes animals to become listless and prone in the cage; death occurs in 16 to 24 h. The toxic effects of microcystin vary depending upon the route of exposure and may include hypotension and cardiogenic shock, in addition to hepatotoxicity.34,44

Diagnosis of Laboratory Exposures

LMW toxins are a diverse set of molecules with a correspondingly wide range of signs and symptoms of laboratory exposure, as discussed above for each toxin. Common symptoms can be expected for LMW toxins with common mechanisms of action. For example, several paralytic marine toxins that interfere with normal sodium channel function cause rapid paresthesias of the lips, face and digits after ingestion. The rapid onset of illness or injury (minutes to hours) generally supports a diagnosis of chemical or LMW toxin exposure. Painful skin lesions may occur almost immediately after contact with T-2 mycotoxin, and ocular irritation or lesions will occur in minutes to hours after contact with T-2 or palytoxin.

Specific diagnosis of LMW toxins in the form of a rapid diagnostic test is not presently available in the field. Serum and urine should be collected for testing at specialized reference laboratories by methods including antigen detection, receptor-binding assays, or liquid chromatographic analyses of metabolites. Metabolites of several marine toxins, including saxitoxin, tetrodotoxin, and brevetoxins, are well-studied as part of routine regulation of food supplies.36 Likewise, T-2 mycotoxin absorption and biodistribution has been studied, and its metabolites can be detected as late as 28 days after exposure.27 Pathologic specimens include blood, urine, lung, liver, and stomach contents. Environmental and clinical samples can be tested using a gas liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry technique.

Laboratory Safety

General considerations for the safe use and inactivation of toxins of biological origin are found in Chapter 17. Ingestion, parenteral inoculation, skin and eye contamination, and droplet or aerosol exposure of mucous membranes are the primary hazards to laboratory and animal care personnel. LMW toxins also can contaminate food sources or small-volume water supplies. Additionally, the T-2 mycotoxin is a potent vesicant and requires additional safety precautions to prevent contact with exposed skin or eyes. Palytoxin also is highly toxic by the ocular route of exposure.

In addition to their high toxicity, the physical/chemical stability of the LMW toxins contribute to the risks involved in handling them in the laboratory environment. Unlike many protein toxins, the LMW toxins can contaminate surfaces as a stable, dry film that may pose an essentially indefinite contact threat to laboratory workers. Special emphasis, therefore, must be placed upon proper decontamination of work surfaces and equipment.45

Containment Recommendations

When handling LMW toxins or potentially contaminated material, BSL-2 practices, containment, equipment and facilities are recommended, especially the wearing of a laboratory coat, safety glasses and disposable gloves; the gloves must be impervious to organic solvents or other diluents employed with the toxin.

A BSC (Class II, Type B1 or B2) or a chemical fume hood equipped with exhaust HEPA filters and a charcoal filter are indicated for activities with a high potential for aerosol, such as powder samples, and the use of large quantities of toxin. Laboratory coat and gloves should be worn if potential skin contact exists. The use of respiratory protection should be considered if potential aerosolization of toxin exists.

For LMW toxins that are not easily decontaminated with bleach solutions, it is recommended to use pre-positioned, disposable liners for laboratory bench surfaces to facilitate clean up and decontamination.

Special Issues

Vaccines

No approved vaccines are currently available for human use. Experimental therapeutics for LMW toxins have been reviewed.46

Select Agent

Some LMW toxins are a Select Agent requiring registration with CDC and/or USDA for possession, use, storage and/or transfer. See Chapter 14 for additional information.

Transfer of Agent

Importation of this agent may require CDC and/or USDA importation permits. Domestic transport of this agent may require a permit from USDA/APHIS/VS. A DoC permit may be required for the export of this agent to another country. See Chapter 11 for additional information.

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Article ID: 131890
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Thu 4/8/21 9:19 PM
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