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Preparedness and capacity building for emerging epidemics

European Training and Research Centre for Imported and Highly Contagious Diseases

EC contribution
: € 2 060 000
: 60 months
Starting date
: 01/11/2004
: infectious diseases, virology, parasitology, emerging diseases, mosquito-borne diseases, high security
Project Number
: RICN-2004-CT-011900


To ensure that the European Union is able to respond appropriately to the possible misuse of biological agents or outbreaks of rare, but deadly tropical diseases, secure and safe laboratories should be provided, and they should possess the associated research competencies required to develop and maintain expertise in this field. The Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNI) in Hamburg (Germany) is an internationally recognised centre of such expertise and is host to one of only six biosafety level 4 labs (BSL 4) in the EU.

The BNI has received planning permission for a 5 000 m2 building extension to house BSL 4 and BSL 3 laboratories, and a remodelled treatment centre for viral haemorrhagic fevers. By that means, it would create an interdisciplinary research centre environment unique in Europe.

The extension is to be financed by German government authorities and will receive additional financial resources from the Support for Research Infrastructures Programme, which permit the optimal equipping of the facility. Central to the project is the erection of an extension building of 5 000 m2 housing stateof- the-art BSL 3 and 4 laboratories, specific pathogen-free animal husbandry and a BSL 3 insectary. BSL 4 is the highest laboratory safety category and is reserved for diagnostics and research on highly contagious pathogens causing life-threatening disease, such as Lassa or Ebola virus. Some of these pathogens have occasionally been imported into European countries and BNI receives about 40 samples of suspect cases Europe-wide each year. The BSL 3 insectary will allow studies on mosquitoborne diseases like malaria, dengue or West Nile fever.

The EUTRICOD project also includes a treatment centre for management of highly contagious diseases, which is to be operated by the Bernhard Nocht Clinic at the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf. Thirdly, the Ghanaian Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR) will be technically upgraded with a BSL 3 laboratory to study tropical viruses of the area.

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