Glossary of Terms and List of Acronyms
*These Definitions are proposed on an interim basis: they are subject to modification in the light of developments in the science of risk analysis and as a result of efforts to harmonize similar definitions across various disciplines.
Antibiotic - a drug administered to kill or inhibit bacterial infection. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses.
Antibody - a protein produced by the body's immune system in response to a foreign substance (antigen). Our bodies fight off an infection by producing antibodies to selectively neutralize the foreign substance, producing immunity to certain microorganisms.
Antigen - any foreign substance, usually a protein, which stimulates the immune system to release antibodies.
Antimicrobial resistance - a strain of a pathogen which has gained the ability to withstand the effects of drugs such as antibiotics or antivirals.
Antiviral - a drug used to prevent or treat infections caused by viruses; an antiviral can reduce the duration and severity of illness.
Applied research - original work that is directed towards specific objectives such as the development of a new drug, therapy, or surgical procedure.
Assay - a test to detect the presence, absence, or quantity of an agent within a substance; frequently used to test for the presence or concentration of infectious agents or antibodies, etc.
Autoclave - a piece of equipment used for sterilization by heat under steam pressure.
Bacteriology - the scientific study of bacteria, a branch of microbiology.
Bacterium (singular) / Bacteria (plural) - a microorganism made of only one cell. Present almost everywhere, some types of bacteria can cause disease while others are helpful to humans.
Basic research (also called pure or fundamental) - research aimed at expanding knowledge rather than solving a specific, pragmatic problem.
Bioinformatics - the collection, organization and analysis of large amounts of biological data, using networks of computers and databases.
Biosafety - the application of knowledge, work practices, facility design, and safety equipment to prevent transmission of biological agents to lab workers, other persons, and the environment.
Bioseal door - airtight door used in high containment laboratories; at CSCHAH submarine style doors are used.
Biosecurity - describes the protection, control and accountability for biological materials within laboratories, in order to prevent their unauthorized access, loss, theft, misuse, diversion or intentional release. Also used in relation to farm practices that minimize the risk of the spread of infectious diseases to and amongst livestock.
Biotechnology - the application of science and technology to living organisms for the production of knowledge, goods and services.
Biowaste - biological waste generated in laboratories requiring sterilization.
BSC - Biosafety Cabinet - a cabinet designed to protect personnel and the environment as well as the infectious materials being used. An opening in the front of the cabinet allows the worker's arms to be inserted into the cabinet and controlled air flow creates a barrier so that potentially contaminated air can not get in or out without being filtered and/or redirected.
BSE - Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy - commonly known as mad cow disease, BSE is a transmissible neurological illness caused by prions.
CBRNE - Chemical, Biological, Radiological-Nuclear and Explosive - a term commonly used by counter-terrorism experts to refer to events involving the release of chemicals, biological agents or radioactive contamination into the environment or explosions that cause widespread damage. CBRNE events can be caused by accidents or by terrorist acts.
CDC - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - a federal agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services with a mission to promote health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.
CFIA - Canadian Food Inspection Agency - Government of Canada agency dedicated to safeguarding food, animals and plants in order to enhance the health and well-being of Canada's people, environment and economy.
CIHR - Canadian Institutes of Health Research - the major federal agency responsible for funding health research in Canada. Each of 13 institutes is dedicated to a specific area of focus, linking and supporting researchers pursuing common goals.
CJD - Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease - classical CJD is a human prion disease seen sporadically in populations around the world. Unlike variant CJD, it is not linked to eating beef. The rate of CJD is approximately one per million people per year.
CL - Containment Level - method of classification of different stringencies required for safe work with pathogens of various risk levels. CL is often referred to in the United States as BSL (Biosafety Level) and in other parts of the world as P (Physical containment level).
CL1 - Containment Level 1 - these labs are used to study biological agents not known to consistently cause disease in healthy adults. Basic safety procedures are followed but no special equipment or design features are required. These are the types of labs generally found in high schools.
CL2 - Containment Level 2 - these labs are used to study pathogens often found in the community and unlikely to be a serious hazard to laboratory workers. Risk of spread is limited and effective treatment or preventive measures are available. Examples of risk group 2 organisms are seasonal Influenza, Salmonella and Chlamydia. Safety measures may include a combination of biosafety cabinets, gloves, lab coats or gowns, hand-washing sinks and autoclaves for sterilization. These laboratories can commonly be found in hospitals, medical clinics and universities.
CL3 - Containment Level 3 - level 3 laboratories are designed to deal with agents that can cause serious human or animal disease. All waste leaving these laboratories must be treated. Airflow is carefully controlled through air pressure systems so that air leaving the laboratory is filtered through high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. Staff change into laboratory clothing prior to entering the laboratories and must shower before leaving some areas. Laboratory access is strictly controlled. Examples of pathogens requiring level 3 containment are Tuberculosis, West Nile virus and Foot and Mouth Disease. There are numerous level 3 laboratories across the country often in universities, provincial facilities or private institutes.
CL3 Ag - Containment Level 3 Agriculture - an advanced Containment Level 3 that requires the special construction similar to CL4 but does not necessitate the use of a full positive pressure suit, though other personal protective equipment is generally needed. These areas are used for work with animal pathogens.
CL4 - Containment Level 4 - the highest level of containment is specially designed for work with dangerous pathogens that usually produce very serious and often fatal human and animal diseases that have no treatment or vaccine. Researchers follow strict entry and exit protocols and wear positive air pressure biosafety suits connected to filtered air lines. The suits are chemically treated as researchers leave the laboratory. Staff must also take a personal shower. The level 4 containment laboratories are constructed with air tight rooms and negative air pressure zones that ensure air flows into the laboratory, as successive interlocking doors are opened, and exits through high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. The level 4 laboratories at CSCHAH are the only level 4 labs operating in Canada however there are more than 15 others around the world with many more under development. Examples of pathogens requiring this maximum containment are Ebola, Marburg and nipah viruses.
CLC - Community Liaison Committee - An independent committee made up of volunteer community representatives created by the U of S in May 2007, is an independent organization working to ensure full and open communication on safety issues related to the International Vaccine Centre (InterVac), located on the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) campus. Extensive information regarding safety, programs, research and ongoing developments at the lab is shared with the committee on a regular basis.
Containment - a combination of construction, engineering, mechanical, procedural, or biological controls designed and operated to restrict environmental release from a structure.
CSCHAH - Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health - a state-of-the art laboratory complex housing the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease. The facility contains extensive level 2 and 3 laboratories as well as Canada's only level 4 labs.
CWD - Chronic Wasting Disease - a prion disease similar to BSE that affects animals such as deer, elk and moose.
Decontamination – the process by which materials and surfaces are rendered safe to handle and reasonably free of microorganisms, toxins, or prions; this may be accomplished through disinfection, inactivation, or sterilization.
Directional air flow - an important aspect of containment, directional air flow, maintained through the use of negative air pressure and interlocking doors, is used to ensure that air leaves laboratories through appropriate filtration systems.
DNA - Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) - the material inside the nucleus of cells that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms and some viruses.
Endemic - the constant presence of a disease or infectious agent within a given geographic area or population group; a disease that occurs continuously or in expected cycles in a population, with a certain number of cases expected for a given period.
Enteric - involving the digestive tract; examples of enteric bacteria (affecting the digestive system) are E.coli and salmonella.
Epidemiology - the study of diseases or conditions in human populations and the factors that influence their incidence and prevalence. Often epidemiologists are tasked with tracing the source of an outbreak as well as case contacts in order to break the chain of transmission.
Epidemic - an outbreak of infection that spreads rapidly and affects many individuals in a given area or population at the same time.
Genome - the entire collection of genes possessed by one organism. The normal human genome consists of three billion base pairs of DNA.
Genomics - the study of both the structure of the genome and of the information contained in the chromosomes of an organism. This comprises gene mapping, gene sequencing, and the study of gene function.
HEPA - High Efficiency Particulate Air filter - a type of air filter that removes at least 99.97% of all particles 0.3 microns in diameter; efficiency is even greater for both larger and smaller particles.
High-containment - refers to Containment Level 3 and Level 3-Ag.
Hot zone - an area or laboratory is considered hot' when infectious agents are present.
HVAC - Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning - the heating, cooling and air circulation system within a facility.
ICRS - Incident Communication Reporting System - system instituted by the VIDO-InterVac and its Community Liaison Committee to assess incidents that occur in the facility and guide the extent of communication that should follow.
Infection - condition in which virulent organisms are able to multiply within the body and cause a response from the host's immune defenses. Infection may or may not lead to clinical disease.
Infectious - capable of being transmitted by infection.
Isolate - a pure specimen (such as a virus or bacterium) that has been isolated from a diseased sample.
Life sciences - the study of biology and related subjects. The life sciences industry often involves using living organisms to create useful products or processes, including vaccines and therapeutics.
Microbiology - the branch of biology that studies microorganisms and their effects on humans.
Monoclonal antibodies - antibodies with an affinity for the same antigen and are identical because they are produced by one type of immune cell. Given (almost) any substance, it is possible to create monoclonal antibodies that specifically bind to that substance; they can then serve to detect or purify that substance.
Morbidity - departure from a state of well-being, either physiological or psychological; illness.
Mortality - death, as in expected mortality (the predicted occurrence of death in a defined population during a specific time interval).
MRSA - Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus - a strain of Staphylococcus aureus (a common bacterial infection) that has become resistant to the antibiotic methicillin.
Mutation - a permanent, transmissible change in the genetic material of a cell.
Mycobacterium - a type of bacteria that includes those that cause tuberculosis and leprosy.
Necropsy - an autopsy or post-mortem examination of a dead body to determine cause of death or the changes produced by disease.
Nosocomial - infections acquired in hospital. Many hospital acquired infections are resistant to some antibiotics, an increasing concern.
OIE - Office International des Epizooties - now known as the World Organisation for Animal Health, this intergovernmental body has retained its historical acronym, OIE. Established in 1924, the OIE is responsible for improving animal health worldwide.
Outbreak - an increase of infectious disease beyond the level normally found in a specific population a specified period of time.
Pandemic - referring to an epidemic of widespread prevalence around the globe.
PAPR - Powered Air Purifying Respirator - a hood with an independent air supply used to protect lab workers from potential aerosol exposure. Positive air pressure is maintained in the hood by a battery operated blower which pumps air through a HEPA filter into the hood.
Researcher in InterVac Flow Cytometry Lab wearing a Powered Air Purifying Respirator and other protective clothing.
Pathogen - a disease-producing microorganism including viruses, bacteria and prions.
Pathogenic - a microorganism capable of producing disease.
Pathology - analysis of human tissues and organs to help in diagnosis.
PCR - Polymerase Chain Reaction - a technique used to amplify the number of copies of a target DNA. PCR is useful in laboratory diagnosis.
PHAC - Public Health Agency of Canada - focused on more effective efforts to prevent chronic diseases and injuries and respond to infectious disease outbreaks, the Public Health Agency of Canada works closely with provinces and territories to keep Canadians healthy and help reduce pressures on the health care system.
Phage - a short form for bacteriophage which is a virus that infects bacteria. Phages can be used in diagnostic procedures (see phage-typing).
Phage-typing - a procedure for characterizing and detecting bacterial strains by their reaction (susceptibility or resistance) to various known strains of phages.
Pipette - a laboratory instrument used to transfer a measured volume of liquid by suctioning the liquid up into a tube then releasing it in another location.
PPE - Personal Protective Equipment - safety gear such as gloves, respirators, masks, and safety glasses worn to protect someone from exposure to hazards such as infectious materials.
Positive Pressure Suit - enclosed protective suit with an independent air supply used in Containment Level 4 laboratories to protect laboratory workers.
Prion - an abnormally folded, infectious protein that causes degenerative diseases of brain tissue known as spongiform encephalopathies. Examples include BSE, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and scrapie.
Prophylactic - a medical procedure or practice that prevents or protects against a disease or conditions, for example vaccines.
Proteomics - is the large-scale study of the complete complement of proteins produced by an organism.
Public health - the art and science of protecting and improving community health by means of preventive medicine, health education, communicable disease control, and the application of social and sanitary sciences.
Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) - a technique used to separate strands of DNA by length in order to tell differences among samples. It operates by alternating electric fields to run DNA through a flat gel matrix of agarose. PFGE is used with PulseNet.
Reagent - a compound involved in a chemical or biochemical reaction, especially one used in analysis to produce a characteristic reaction in order to determine the presence of another compound.
Reverse genetics - the manipulation of genes to create a mutation in a genome or construct a new genome. This procedure can be used in vaccine development.
RNA - Ribonucleic Acid - similar DNA, RNA is responsible for translating the genetic code of DNA into proteins.
Saf-T-Pak - a specific packaging system manufactured by Saf-T-Pak Inc, certified under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and Regulations as safe for the transport of infectious substances. Similar packing systems are manufactured and distributed by other companies.
Sequencing - the process of determining the composition and exact order of the building blocks of a particular piece of DNA.
Serology - a test to detect the presence of antibodies in blood serum.
Serotype - a method of classifying microorganisms according to their cell surface antigens.
Strain - A group of organisms within a species that share a common quality. For example, common strains of influenza A (H1N1) include A/Solomon Islands and A/Brisbane.
Subtype - a subordinate type included within a broader or more general type. As an example, influenza type A viruses are classified based on the surface proteins hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N), so viruses such as H5N1 or H1N1 would be subtypes of influenza A.
Surveillance - a systematic method for continuous monitoring of diseases in a population in order to be able to detect changes in disease patterns and implement appropriate public health interventions and programs.
TDG - Transportation of Dangerous Goods - federal legislation and regulations managed by Transport Canada that provide strict procedures for the shipment of all types of dangerous goods including infectious materials.
Tissue Digester System – a system used to sterilize solid materials from the CL3-Ag labs using heat, sodium hydroxide and pressure.
TSE - Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy - class of brain-wasting diseases caused by prions including BSE (mad cow), Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease or scrapie.
Vaccine - a preparation of a weakened or killed pathogen, such as a bacterium or virus, or of a portion of the pathogen's structure, that stimulates antibody production or cellular immunity against the pathogen in order to protect against subsequent infection but is incapable of causing severe infection.
VHP - Vaporised Hydrogen Peroxide – a technology allowing surface disinfection of a sealed space and any equipment present in that space, whereby the space is filled with hydrogen peroxide vapor for a specified period of time and concentration to inactivate any infectious materials present.
vCJD - variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease - one of a small group of fatal diseases caused by infectious agents called prions (misfolded proteins) that attack the brain. Variant CJD is linked to eating beef products from cattle infected with BSE.
Vector - a carrier that transfers a substance from one host to another. Examples include mosquitoes transferring infective agents, such as West Nile virus, from one species to another and vaccine development, when an inactivated bacterium or virus is used to transport an antigen into the body to stimulate protective immunity.
Virology - the study of viruses and viral disease.
Virulence - the relative degree or ability of a microorganism to cause disease or damage its host.
Virus - a type of infectious agent characterized by its inability to reproduce outside of a living host cell. Viruses may subvert the host cells' normal functions causing the cells to behave in a manner determined by the virus.
VRE - Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci - Enterococcus is a bacterium that is commonly found in people. It tends to cause symptoms of infection only in people who are already seriously ill. VRE is the same bacteria, but is a strain that has developed a resistance to vancomycin.
WHO - World Health Organization - a special agency of the United Nations generally concerned with health and health care.
WNv - West Nile virus - a zoonotic virus transmitted to humans via mosquitoes that can cause severe illness in rare instances. West Nile first appeared on the North American continent in 1999 and has since spread across much of Canada and the United States.
Zoonotic - infections that are transmissible from animals to humans. A majority of pathogens that affect humans originated in animals. Examples of zoonotic infections include influenza, salmonella, hanta virus and BSE.