Smallpox (Variola virus)

Smallpox virus is highly infectious. Manipulation of specimen material should be avoided, but if necessary, use Biosafety Level 3 practices.


  • If smallpox is suspected, notify your state public health laboratory immediately for evaluation and referral.
  • Smallpox is a medical and public health emergency even when criminal activity is not suspected. Diagnosis is made by clinical findings and confirmed by advanced techniques in Level D facilities.
  • Level A laboratories should not attempt to culture or perform any diagnostic assays on specimens suspected of containing smallpox virus.
  • Responsibility of the Level A Laboratory is limited to advising medical staff on specimen selection and with packing, shipping and communication of specimens from suspected case.
  • Specimen Collection and Transport Guidelines (pdf)
  • Specimen Collection Chart (pdf)
  • B-Safe Card (pdf)


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