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International Air Transport Association ("IATA")
 2007 Regulatory Changes
Infectious Substance Category A, Biological Substance Category B, & Exempt Specimen Shipments


On January 1, 2007, two proper shipping names "Diagnostic Specimen" and "Clinical Specimen", are abandoned and replaced with "Biological Substance Category B".  The UN3373 label continues to be required together with a Biological Substance Category B label.

Under this modified regulatory structure, there are  three categories of regulated substances:

     I.  Infectious Substance Category A, (please see Table below (reference IATA DGR, Table 3.6.D.; The IATA  2007 Category A list is identical to the 2006 Category A list.),

     2. Biological Substance Category B, and

     3. Patient Specimen:  exempt human specimen or exempt animal specimen.

Under the 2005 and 2006 IATA DGR, infectious organisms intentionally propagated or cultured in a laboratory, and not listed in Infectious Substance, Category A, were considered dangerous goods and required to follow Division 6.2 packaging and documentation requirements, UN2814 or UN2900 as appropriate.

Under the 2007 IATA regulations, if a culture of a pathogenic organism is not listed in Category A (IATA DGR 3.6.D), it is classified in Biological Substance Category B.  This is a significant change.

Re-classification of cultured pathogens gives the shipper the choice to ship these specimens under IATA packing instruction 650, Biological Substance Category B, without dangerous goods disclosure or Class 6.2 packaging.

Exempt human or animal specimens, the third category, are described below as well as in of the IATA DGR.

Be certain to review acceptance policies with your carrier to verify that Category A  OR B substances are transportable by your carrier.  As of September 29, 2006, Lufthansa Airlines was the only carrier to refuse Category B shipments aboard their aircraft.  Other carriers may refuse to accept Risk Group IV specimens under the old risk group classification system.

Other air carriers are now accepting the new Biological Substance Category B labels and packaging, in order to avoid disruption of shipments at the end of 2006.  For information about current availability of the new labels and packaging, please call or email us






Infectious Substances are substances which are known to contain, or are reasonably expected to contain, pathogens.  Pathogens are defined as micro-organisms (including bacteria, viruses, rickettsiae, parasites, fungi) and other agents such as prions, that can cause disease in humans or animals.

Cultures are the result of a process by which pathogens are intentionally propagated.  This definition does not include human or animal patient specimens.

Patient specimens are those collected directly from humans or animals, including, but not limited to, excreta, secreta, blood and its components, tissue and tissue fluid swabs, and body parts being transported for purposes such as research, diagnosis, investigational activities, disease treatment and prevention.

Medical or clinical wastes are wastes derived from the medical treatment of animals or humans or from bio-research.


For transport purposes, the classification of infectious substances according to risk groups was removed from the DGR in the 46th edition.

Infectious substances are now classified as category A or category B.

There is no relationship between Risk Groups and category A and B.

Category A Infectious Substances are infectious substances in a form that, when exposure to it occurs, is capable of causing permanent disability, life threatening or fatal disease in otherwise healthy humans or animals.  They are assigned the following proper shipping name and UN number:

  •     Infectious Substance, affecting humans UN2814; or

  •     Infectious Substance, affecting animals UN2900

Assignment to UN2814 or UN2900 is to be based on the known medical history and symptoms of the source human or animal, endemic local conditions, or professional judgment concerning individual circumstances of the source human or animal.  If there is any doubt as to whether or not a pathogen falls within this category it must be transported as a Category A Infectious Substance.

To assist in the assignment of an infectious substance into category A see the Indicative List provided in Table 3.6.D in the DGR included below.  The list is not exhaustive.  Infectious Substances, including new or emerging pathogens, which do not appear in the table but which meet the same criteria must be assigned to Category A.

Category B Infectious Substances are Infectious Substances that do not meet the criteria for inclusion in category A.  They are assigned the following proper shipping name and UN number UN3373:

  •     Biological Substance Category B

(1)  This information was extracted from the guidance document developed by IATA and ICAO.  It was updated based upon interviews of representatives of the carriers and other agencies.  The 48th edition of the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations is now available through IATA in Montreal, CA.



Indicative Examples of Infectious Substances Included in Category A
In Any Form Unless Otherwise Indicated

(This list is not exhaustive)

Bascillus anthracis (cultures only)
Brucella abortus (cultures only)
Brucella melitensis (cultures only)
Brucella suis (cultures only)
Burkholderia mallei - Pseudomonas mallei - Glanders (cultures only)
Burkholderia pseudonallei - Pseudomonas pseudomallei (cultures only)
Chlamydia psittaci - avian strains (cultures only)
Clostridium botulinum (cultures only)
Coccidioides immitis (cultures only)
Coxiella burnetii (cultures only)
Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever visus
Dengue visus (cultures only)
Eastern equine encephalitis virus (cultures only)
Escherichia coli, verotoxigenic (cultures only)
Ebola virus
Flexal virus
Francisella tularensis (cultures only)
Guanarito virus
Hantaan virus
Hantavirus causing hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome
Hendra virus
Hepatitus B virus (cultures only)
Herpes B virus (cultures only)
Human immunodeficiency virus (cultures only)
Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (cultures only)
Japanese Encephalitis virus (cultures only)
Junin virus
Kyasanur Forest disease virus
Lassa virus
Machupo virus
Marburg virus
Monkeypox virus
Mycobacterium tuberculosis (cultures only)
Nipah virus
Omsk hemorrhagic fever virus
Poliovirus (cultures only)
Rabies virus (cultures only)
Rickettsia prowazekii (cultures only)
Rickettsia ricketsii (cultures only)
Rift Valley fever virus (cultures only)
Russian spring-summer encephalitis virus (cultures only)
Sabia virus
Shigella dysenteriae type 1 (cultures only)
Tick-borne encephalitis virus (cultures only)
Variola virus
West Nile virus (cultures only)
Yellow fever virus (cultures only)
Yersinia pestis (cultures only)
African swine fever virus (cultures only)
Avian paramyxovirus type 1 - Velogenic Newcastle disease virus (cultures only)
Classical swine fever virus (cultures only)
Foot and mouth disease virus (cultures only)
Lumpy skin disease virus (cultures only)
Mycoplasma cycoides - Contagious bovine pleuroneumonia (cultures only)
Pestes des petits ruminants virus (cultures only)
Rinderpest virus (cultures only)
Sheep-pox virus (cultures only)
Goatpox virus (cultures only)
Swine vesicular disease virus (cultures only)
Eastern equine encephalitis (cultures only)
Vesicular stomatitis virus (cultures only)




Summary of Diagnostic Specimen Exemptions:  Under IATA DGR 2005, Amendment III permits certain types of diagnostic specimens to be shipped with reduced documentation, labeling, and packaging if the specimens meet the standards for the exemption.  Specimens that meet the following definitions and other criteria are qualified for the exemption; specimens that fail to meet the definition and other criteria must continue to be meet the 2005 rules:


1.  Specimen must meet the following definition:

Specimens are those collected directly from humans or animals, including, but not limited to, excreta, secreta blood and its components, tissue and tissue fluid, swabs, and body parts being transported for purposes such as research, diagnosis, investigational activities, disease treatment, and prevention. 

2.  Minimal likelihood that he specimen contains a pathogen:

A patient or animal specimen is considered exempt if there is a minimal likelihood that pathogens are present.  In determining whether a patient or animal specimen has a minimal likelihood that pathogens are present, an element of professional judgment is required to determine if a substance is exempt.  This judgment should be based on the known medical history, symptoms, and individual circumstances of the source, human or animal, and endemic local conditions.

Examples of specimens which may be transported under the exemption include the blood or urine tests to monitor cholesterol levels, blood glucose levels, hormone levels, PSA tests, tests required to monitor organ function such as heart, liver, or kidney function for humans or animals with non-infectious diseases, or therapeutic drug monitoring; tests conducted for insurance or employment purposes, biopsies to detect cancer; and antibody detection in humans or animals.


Patient or animal specimens, for which there is minimal likelihood that pathogens are present may utilize the exemption, provided that the specimen is packaged in a packaging which will prevent any leakage.  The packaging must meet the following conditions:

1.  The packaging must consist of three components:

(a)  a leak-proof primary receptacle (s);
(b)  a leak-proof secondary packaging, and
(c)  an outer packaging of adequate strength for its capacity, mass and intended use, and with at least one surface having minimum dimensions of 100 mm x 100 mm.

2.  For liquids, absorbent material in sufficient quantity to absorb the entire contents must be placed between the primary receptacle( s) and the secondary packaging so that during transport, any release or leak of a liquid substance will not reach he outer packaging and will not compromise the integrity of the cushioning material.

3.  When multiple fragile primary receptacles are placed in a single secondary packaging, they must be individually wrapped or separated to prevent contact between them.


1.  Do not mark "Diagnostic Specimen, UN3373" on the air bill.

2,  If dry ice is used as  a refrigerant, continue to mark "Dry ice, 9, UN1845, III on the air bill (check the dry ice on the FedEx air bill).

3. Continue to check the "no" checkbox on the FedEx air bill in response to the question:  "Does this shipment contain Dangerous Goods"

Packaging, Marking, and Labeling:

1.  Mark the outside of the outer container with the words "Exempt human specimen" or "Exempt animal specimen" as appropriate.

2.  Do not place the "Diagnostic specimen, UN3373 label on the outer container.

3.  If dry ice is used as a refrigerant continue to follow the Packing Instruction 904 packaging requirements




Casing Scientific
5015 Addison Circle Addison, Texas  75001
800 358 6105   Fax 888 661 5667   Email -
Intl Phone 1 214 223 6358  Intl Fax 1 254 731 2522