Position Paper on Hendra Specimens for Transport within Australia

PHLN is an Australasian collaborative microbiology group.

Page last updated: 24 January 2012

PDF printable version of Position Paper on Hendra Specimens for Transport within Australia (PDF 116 KB)

Humans potentially exposed to Hendra virus or having a clinical illness suspected of being due to Hendra virus have a very low risk of actually being infected, therefore specimens collected from them are very unlikely to contain infectious Hendra virus. However, humans who are known to be infected will have infectious virus in blood and other specimens until they develop a Hendra virus-specific antibody response that neutralises the virus. Once they have developed this antibody response, the specimens are highly unlikely to contain infectious virus.

Therefore, for the purposes of transportation of samples under the IATA regulations:

Specimens (e.g. blood, nasal/throat swabs, urine) collected from patients with laboratory-confirmed Hendra virus infection who are not known to also have Hendra virus-specific antibody will be treated as UN 2814 Category A – Infectious Substance, affecting humans (infectious substances capable of causing permanent disability, life-threatening or fatal disease in otherwise healthy humans or animals), classified under IATA Hazard Class 6.2 and IATA Packing Instruction 602) and transported accordingly. Likewise, cultures of Hendra virus should be transported as Category A UN2814.

All other specimens have a minimal risk of containing infectious virus and may be transported as routine diagnostic specimens UN 3373 – Biological Substance, Category B. This includes:

  • specimens collected from asymptomatic people following exposure to a Hendra virus infected animal or person
  • specimens collected from people with suspected (but not yet confirmed) Hendra virus clinical illness
  • serial blood specimens collected at day 21 and day 42 post exposure to test for seroconversion from a person who remains asymptomatic
  • specimens collected from patients known to have been infected but who have not yet developed Hendra virus-specific antibodies.
PHLN Secretariat
Department of Health & Ageing
MDP 140, GPO Box 9848, Canberra ACT 2601
Telephone: 61 2 6289 9054
Facsimile: 61 2 6289 1070
E-mail: phln.secretariat@health.gov.au


Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
DepartmentThe Canberra Hospital


Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiological Laboratory Services
South East Area Laboratory Service


Northern Territory Government Pathology Service


Pathology Queensland
Queensland Health Forensic andScientific Services


Institute of Medical and VeterinaryScience


Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Royal Hobart Hospital


Microbiological Diagnostic Unit (MDU) Public Health Laboratory

Victorian Infectious DiseasesReference Laboratory (VIDRL)


PathWest Laboratory Medicine
Western Australia


Health Emergency Planning and Response Branch
Office of Health Protection
Department of Health and Ageing

CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratories

Communicable Diseases Network Australia

Private Pathology Representative (Observer)

Australian Federal Police Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Data Centre (Observer)

New Zealand

Communicable Disease GroupInstitute of Environmental Science and Research (Observer)

Canterbury Health Laboratories (Observer)