Latest version of the Approved List of Biological Agents published

The Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP) today published the latest version of the Approved List of Biological Agents.('The Approved List').

The Approved List classifies biological agents (bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi and prions) into one of four hazard groups (HG) according to the following criteria:

  • Their ability to cause infection (in otherwise healthy individuals);
  • The severity of the disease that may result;
  • The risk that infection will spread to the community; and
  • The availability of effective vaccines and treatment.

The Approved List is an approved document that works in conjunction with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) to provide the regulatory framework controlling the risk from biological agents at work. Only those agents classified into Groups 2-4 are listed, however, simply because an agent is not listed this does not mean it is automatically a HG1 agent.

A limited number of agents have been reclassified, removed or added to the list, reflecting the most current scientific knowledge. This version of the Approved List has seen changes to the status of Duvenhage virus and Mobala virus (both have been changed from HG2 to HG3), the removal of several HG2 bacteria, and the inclusion of the SARS virus as a HG3 agent.

Previously, the List was a supplement to the Categorisation of biological agents according to hazard and categories of containment guidance. The List is now a stand-alone publication that should be read in conjunction with COSHH and relevant ACDP and COSHH guidance.

Additional guidance on work with HG3 enteric pathogens (known as Appendix 24) which was previously published with the Approved List remains current but will appear in new ACDP guidance (Biological agents: managing the risks) currently under preparation, due to be published by early 2005. In the interim, Appendix 24 will be separately available on the HSE website.

The Approved List is now available as an online publication only on the HSE website at As with all online publications, readers are advised to frequently check the website to ensure information is as up to date as possible.


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