Reality Check: How Do You Run a BSL-4 Facility in the Middle of Africa Ebola Crisis??? – 09/18/2014

Ebola is a viral disease that, on average, kills 60% of those who contracted it.

“Ebolavirus is classified as a biosafety level 4 agent, as well as aCategory A bioterrorism agent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has the potential to be weaponized for use in biological warfare, and was investigated by theBiopreparat for such use, but might be difficult to prepare as aweapon of mass destruction because the virus becomes ineffective quickly in open air.

“Ebola viruses are World Health Organization Risk Group 4 pathogens, requiring biosafety level 4-equivalent containment. Laboratory researchers must be properly trained in BSL-4 practices and wear proper personal protective equipment.”

“During an outbreak, virus isolation is often not feasible. The most common diagnostic methods are therefore real time PCR and ELISA detection of proteins, which can be performed in field or mobile hospitals.

“Ebola virus was first isolated in 1976 during outbreaks of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then Zaire) and Southern Sudan. The name of the disease originates from the first recorded outbreak in 1976 in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of the Congo, which lies on the Ebola River.

“In late 1989, Hazelton Research Products’ Reston Quarantine Unit in Reston, Virginia suffered a mysterious outbreak of fatal illness (initially diagnosed as Simian hemorrhagic fever virus(SHFV)) among a shipment of crab-eating macaque monkeys imported from the Philippines. Hazelton’s veterinary pathologist sent tissue samples from dead animals to the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases(USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Maryland, where a laboratory test known as an ELISA assay showed antibodies to Ebola virus. An electron microscopist from USAMRIID discovered filovirusessimilar in appearance to Ebola in the tissue samples sent from Hazelton Research Products’ Reston Quarantine Unit.

“Shortly afterward, a US Army team headquartered at USAMRIID went into action to euthanize the monkeys which had not yet died, bringing those monkeys and those which had already died of the disease to Ft. Detrick for study by the Army’s veterinary pathologists and virologists, and eventual disposal under safe conditions.
Blood samples were taken from 178 animal handlers during the incident. Of those, six animal handlers eventuallyseroconverted. When the handlers did not become ill, the CDC concluded that the virus had a very low pathogenicity to humans.

“The Philippines and the United States had no previous cases of Ebola infection, and upon further isolation, researchers concluded it was another strain of Ebola, or a new filovirus of Asian origin, which they named Reston ebolavirus (REBOV) after the location of the incident.

Biosafety level 4
This level is required for work with dangerous and exotic agents that pose a high individual risk of aerosol-transmitted laboratory infections, agents which cause severe to fatal disease in humans for which vaccines or other treatments are not available, such as Bolivian and Argentine hemorrhagic feversMarburg virusEbola virusLassa virusCrimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, and various other hemorrhagic diseases. This level is also used for work with agents such as smallpox that are considered dangerous enough to require the additional safety measures, regardless of vaccination availability. When dealing with biological hazards at this level the use of a positive pressure personnel suit, with a segregated air supply is mandatory. The entrance and exit of a level four biolab will contain multiple showers, a vacuum room, an ultraviolet light room, and other safety precautions designed to destroy all traces of the biohazard. Multiple airlocks are employed and are electronically secured to prevent both doors from opening at the same time. All air and water service going to and coming from a biosafety level 4 (or P4) lab will undergo similar decontamination procedures to eliminate the possibility of an accidental release.”

“Agents with a close or identical antigenic relationship to biosafety level 4 agents are handled at this level until sufficient data are obtained either to confirm continued work at this level, or to work with them at a lower level.
Members of the laboratory staff have specific and thorough training in handling extremely hazardous infectious agents and they understand the primary and secondary containment functions of the standard and special practices, the containment equipment, and the laboratory design characteristics. They are supervised by qualified scientists who are trained and experienced in working with these agents. Access to the laboratory is strictly controlled by the laboratory director.”

“The facility is either in a separate building or in a controlled area within a building, which is completely isolated from all other areas of the building. A specific facility operations manual is prepared or adopted. Building protocols for preventing contamination often use negatively pressurized facilities, which, even if compromised, would severely inhibit an outbreak of aerosol pathogens.”

“Within work areas of the facility, all activities are confined to Class III biological safety cabinets, or Class II biological safety cabinets used with one-piece positive pressure personnel suits ventilated by a life support system.”

From the top of the head the question for Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria (to begin with, unfortunatly, there may be more) is:

“How do you set up, run and maintain Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for a BSL-4 facility in a Low Developing Country (LDC) environment of 43 degrees Celsius/109.4 Fahrenheit and a history of social unrest and indiscipline??????  :+( “

Even Ghana officials, where WHO wants to run Ebola fight operations, don’t understand the reason for “quarantine”……..:+(

The US military is involved in a very noble gesture of humanitarian effort to try to make the world forget the Rwanda genocide western indifference, but, unfortunately, this time, the adversary, Ebola, may give them some real headaches given the environment, if, and this is a possibility, the US Army NBC specialists are hampered by Political Correctness (PC)……..:+(

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebola_virus_disease
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polymerase_chain_reaction
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enzyme-linked_immunosorbent_assay
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosafety_level#Levels
http://www.bu.edu/orccommittees/files/2012/05/BU-Biosafety-Manual_revisedMay2012.pdf

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