Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR) has a high-containment unit (HCU) that is designed to ensure that infectious agents cannot escape into the environment. This facility allows us to work on highly contagious pathogens up to human BSL-3 level and veterinary BSL-4 level. This includes foot-and-mouth disease virus, classical swine fever virus and avian influenza virus.
The high-containment unit is very important for the statutory task of our research institute to support the Dutch government in monitoring notifiable diseases and crisis management.
The high-containment unit houses laboratory facilities that support research in different expertise areas like microbiology, immunology and pathology. In addition, animal facilities are included in the high-containment unit. This combination of laboratory and animal facilities offers possibilities for multidisciplinary research into BSL-3 and BSL-4 pathogens, which means WBVR is a leading expert in the field of notifiable disease research.
An airtight construction of the whole building prevents viruses from escaping. The air is negatively pressured slightly, so the air flow is always into the building. Air going out of the building is filtered to decontaminate the air, and all waste coming out of the building is sterilized. People wear working cloths and shoes provided by WBVR that are sterilized after use. Every person leaving the building has to shower for at least 5 minutes and is not allowed to visit a site with even-toed ungulates (animals that are sensitive to foot-and-mouth disease virus) or poultry farms for 72 hours after leaving the building. As an additional safety measure, no farm with even-toed angulates is allowed within 3 km around the high-containment unit.