The national facility for diseases that can be transmitted to humans from animals (zoonoses) was officially opened today by Sharon Dijksma, Dutch Minister for Agriculture. This animal facility, at the Central Veterinary Institute (CVI) in Lelystad, part of Wageningen UR, is an exceptionally high-level security facility. The Secretary of State opened the facility by permanently closing its doors.
The new animal facility makes it possible to conduct research into zoonotic infectious diseases caused by bacteria and viruses such as Q fever, avian flu and Rift Valley Fever. The new facility is secured to ensure maximum protection for the outside world against the possible escape of bacteria and viruses. CVI employees are also well-protected against the pathogens.
Research into veterinary infectious diseases has taken place in Lelystad since 1970. The existing High Containment Unit (HCU) houses the only Dutch Veterinary BioSafety Level 4 (vBSL4) laboratory and animal facilities in which it is possible to work safely with highly contagious diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease and swine fever. The addition of this new animal facility, with safety level ‘human BSL3’, also enables research into the prevention and control of diseases that are infectious not just amongst animals but also humans.
The Netherlands is the second largest exporter of agricultural products in the world. An early response to the potential risk of animal disease outbreaks is therefore of great economic and social importance. The expansion of the existing HCU with the zoonosis facility fits in with government policy to prevent and control zoonotic infectious diseases amongst humans and animals. CVI works together with the government and the business community to promote animal and human health through the prevention and control of animal diseases.
Construction of the national facility for zoonosis research has been made possible with funding from Castellum and Kansen voor West. Castellum is a public-private consortium funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, in which Utrecht University’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Wageningen UR and MSD Animal Health participate. Kansen voor West is an economic development programme initiated and supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the province of Flevoland, the municipality of Lelystad and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs.