Culture Collections


The Public Health England Board (PHE Board), being the body responsible for the National Collection of Type Cultures (NCTC), the National Collection of Pathogenic Fungi (NCPF) and the National Collection of Pathogenic Viruses (NCPV), and the NCTC, NCPF and NCPV, being the manufacturers and suppliers of potentially hazardous materials, are obliged (under common law and the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act, 1974 [HMSO; ISBN 0-10-543774-3) to issue the following warning and to specify Conditions of Supply, relating to the safe handling of NCTC, NCPF and NCPV cultures.


All cultures supplied by NCTC, NCPF and NCPV must be regarded as potentially pathogenic, and be handled by, or under the supervision of, competent persons who have received training in microbiological techniques. In the UK this includes compliance, so far as it applies, with "Safe working and the prevention of infection in clinical laboratories and similar facilities" (Health Services Advisory Committee, second edition 2003, HSE Books, ISBN 0-7176-2513-3) and “The Approved List of biological agents (Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens, 2013) as amended from time to time. In other countries, compliance with national codes of practice is enjoined, or failing such a code, with equivalent WHO publications, or with the above quoted documents.


1. That the recipient has read the above warning

2. That the cultures will be used by the recipient, or under his/her direct personal supervision, or handled only by persons authorised by the recipient

3. That the cultures will not be handled by any person who has not read a copy of this Notice

4. That certain cultures, considered to be of special hazard, are subject to further conditions laid down in "Hazardous Pathogens"

5. That the responsibility for ensuring the safe handling of the cultures after receipt rests with the recipient. The PHE Board, NCTC, NCPF and NCPV cannot take any further responsibility for any untoward events arising from handling NCTC, NCPF and NCPV cultures, following their dispatch to the recipient


The following micro-organisms, among those maintained by NCTC, NCPF and NCPV, are classified as Hazard Group 3 Pathogens in “The Approved List of biological agents” (ACDP, 2013 [], wherein special procedures for the handling of these organisms are laid down.


Bacillus anthracis

Francisella tularensis (Type A)

Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Brucella spp.

Mycobacterium africanum

Mycobacterium ulcerans

Burkholderia mallei

Mycobacterium bovis

Salmonella paratyphi A,B,C

Pseudomonas mallei (excluding BCG strain)

Salmonella typhi

Burkholderia pseudomallei

Mycobacterium malmoense

Shigella dysenteriae (Type 1)

Pseudomonas pseudomallei

Mycobacterium microti

Yersinia pestis

Escherichia coli (verotoxigenic)

Mycobacterium szulgai



Blastomyces dermatitidis

Cladophialophora bantiana

Coccidioides immitis

Histoplasma capsulatum var. capsulatum

Histoplasma capsulatum var. duboisii

Histoplasma capsulatum var. farciminosum

Paracoccidioides brasiliensis

Penicillium marneffei



Lymphocytic choriomeningitis





Hepatitis C


Hepatitis B

Borna disease virus

Hepatitis D (Delta)




Human immunodeficiency viruses


Human T-cell lymphotropic viruses (HTLV)

Belgrade (Dobrava) types 1 and 2

Hantaan (Korean haemorrhagic fever)

Simian immunodeficiency virus



Sin Nombre (formerly Muerto Canyon)




Rift valley fever


Hepatitis E

Eastern equine encephalomyelitis



Dengue viruses types 1-4


Hepatitis G


Israel turkey meningoencephalomyelitis virus


Japanese B encephalitis


Murray Valley encephalitis




Sal Vieja


San Perlita

Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis


Western equine encephalomyelitis

St Louis encephalitis

Hepatitis viruses not yet identified


Bovine spongiform encephalophathy (BSE)

West Nile fever 

Yellow fever



Tick Borne Encephalitis



Louping ill


Additionally, the NCTC, on the advice of the HSE, considers that the following bacteria, although listed as Hazard Group 2 in the above ACDP list, require most of the same safe handling procedures as Hazard Group 3 Pathogens.

Clostridium botulinum

Mycobacterium scrofulaceum

Salmonella enteritidis var. chaco

Corynebacterium diphtheriae

Mycobacterium simiae

Salmonella sendai

Mycobacterium avium

Mycobacterium xenopi

Shigella spp. (not listed above)

Mycobacterium intracellulare

Neisseria meningtitidis

Vibrio cholerae (O1 and O139)

Mycobacterium kansasii

Salmonella choleraesuis


NCTC, NCPF and NCPV cultures of any of the above listed micro-organisms are supplied under the same conditions applying to all cultures and the following further conditions:

1. That the cultures are supplied only in response to a request signed by a Head of Department/Managing Director (or persons authorised by him/her) and whose signature(s) are on deposit with the NCTC, NCPF and/or NCPV by means of the requisite form (obtainable from the relevant collection on request)

2. That the above list of species may be amended by NCTC, NCPF or NCPV in response to advice given by appropriate authorities

3. That these conditions apply to cultures marked on Delivery Notes accompanying consignments of cultures as "Hazard Group 3" (or "Hazardous Pathogens" for the above additional bacterial taxa)

4. That UK orders for the following micro-organisms, listed under the "Specified Animal Pathogens Order 1998", must be accompanied by a copy of a valid licence under that order (obtainable from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [DEFRA]) permitting the laboratory to hold or handle such organisms



Bacillus anthracis Brucella suis Mycoplasma capricolum
Brucella abortus Burkholderia mallei Mycoplasma mycoides
Brucella melitensis (Pseudomonas mallei) Mycoplasma mycoides var. capri
Brucella ovis Mycoplasma agalactiae  




African horse sickness virus,

Newcastle disease virus (pathogenic types)

African swine fever virus,

Nipah virus

Aujeszky’s disease virus

Peste des petits ruminants virus

Avian influenza viruses (uncharacterised)

Rabies virus

All viruses of the genus Lyssavirus

Avian influenza viruses (pathogenic Type A strains)

Rift Valley Fever virus

Blue tongue virus

Rinderpest virus

Bovine leukosis virus

Sheep and goat pox virus

Classical swine fever virus

St Louis equine encephalomyelitis virus

Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitis viruses

Swine vesicular disease

Equine infectious anaemia virus

Teschen disease virus

Equine morbillivirus

Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis virus

Foot and mouth disease virus

Vesicular stomatitis virus

Japanese encephalitis virus

Viral haemorrhagic disease of rabbits

Lumpy skin disease virus

West Nile virus

Newcastle disease virus (uncharacterised)



Cultures of the above listed species should not be requested unless the recipients’ laboratory facilities and training of staff conform, so far as it applies, with the Health Services Advisory Committee code of practice and the ACDP document, or overseas, with equivalent national or international codes. If in doubt, the recipient should consult the appropriate regulatory body. In the UK, these bodies are the Health and Safety Executive [HSE] or Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [DEFRA].


Back to top
Copyright © Public Health England.

Please confirm your country of origin from the list below.