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Best Practices for Sample Collection and Transport in an Initial Response to Potential Biothreat Materials



Jayne B. Morrow, Autumn S. Downey, Lisa Delaney


In the event of a suspected or confirmed biological threat, public safety, law enforcement and public and environmental health authorities may collect samples to support their operational objectives. Initial response to a suspected biothreat should be centered on communication and coordination among responding representatives including the Hazardous Materials Response Teams, law enforcement, local public health, including reach back to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) national Laboratory Response Network (LRN), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Communication and coordination among members of the different responding agencies on current best practices for the collection, transport and preservation of samples for laboratory analysis is critical to public health and public safety responses. The two main goals of this document are (1) to support initial response collection decisions made by field responders in communication with laboratory and law enforcement support by disseminating current knowledge of collection method performance and (2) provide best practices for on-scene coordination of sample collection, preservation and transport for samples suspected to be biothreat agents.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1776
Report Number


biothreat response, sampling, guidance, biothreat detection


Morrow, J. , Downey, A. and Delaney, L. (2014), Best Practices for Sample Collection and Transport in an Initial Response to Potential Biothreat Materials, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 20, 2024)
Created March 5, 2014, Updated November 10, 2018