Biosafety level BSL4 Animal
As the Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI) works on highly contagious animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease and swine fever as well as on animal diseases transmitted by blood-sucking insects such as bluetongue disease. These pathogens pose no health risk to humans, but they do pose a risk to susceptible animal species. Therefore, diagnostics and research work are carried out in the highest safety level 4 (BSL4) Animal in order to prevent the escape of pathogens.
For this purpose, the FLI has a large laboratory (287 m2) and animal house complex (630 m2), which is maintained under negative air pressure at all times, equipped in duplicate with high-performance HEPA filters for supply and exhaust air, and monitored technically around the clock. All waste water first is heated to over 100°C inside the building before it is fed into the institute’s own waste water treatment plant. A rendering plant is also integrated.
Since the animal pathogens handled here pose no infection risk to humans, normal laboratory clothing and work wear for animal houses are sufficient for the personnel. Before entering the area, street clothes are taken off and protective clothing is put on when passing the air locks. When working with infected animals, it is mandatory to shower when changing from one compartment to the next and to change clothing again, so that no pathogens are spread within the BSL4 Animal area. Furthermore, showering is mandatory before leaving the safety area. All used clothing items from the area and all other solid waste are sterilized with hot steam. The top priority in the BSL4 Animal area is to protect the environment from the infectious agents handled here.