zoonotic agents that also infect livestock species has not been conducted at PIADC, because of its focus on the highest-priority animal diseases (such as foot-and-mouth disease) and its lack of biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) containment areas, which are necessary for studying deadly zoonotic diseases that have no known treatment or cure. Examples of BSL-4 pathogens include Nipah and Hendra viruses.
HSPD-9 allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to expand its efforts in protecting the country against intentional or natural occurrences of FADs and zoonotic diseases. The aging facilities at PIADC and the lack of BSL-4 capacity prompted DHS to propose the creation of a National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in 2006. The proposed facility is designed to replace PIADC. It would carry out the current mission of PIADC and expand that mission to include the study of zoonotic diseases in BSL-4 and in animal biosafety level 4 (ABSL-4) large-animal containment for accommodating livestock species.
According to DHS, the NBAF would provide “capabilities to perform basic and advanced research; enhanced means to perform laboratory diagnostic detection and response; expanded capabilities for development of new vaccines against high-threat foreign animal diseases; and facilities for training veterinarians in preparedness and response to high-consequence foreign animal disease outbreaks” (DHS, 2012, pp. ES-2-ES-3). DHS now estimates that it would cost $1.14 billion to construct the NBAF in Manhattan, Kansas.4
Given the estimated cost of constructing the proposed NBAF and the country’s current fiscal challenges, DHS requested that the National Research Council assess the disease threats to US animal and public health, describe the laboratory capabilities needed to address the threats, and analyze three proposed options to meet those needs. The three options as stipulated by DHS are (1) constructing the NBAF as designed, (2) constructing a scaled-back version of the NBAF, and (3) maintaining current capabilities at PIADC and leveraging BSL-4 laboratory capacity (for livestock) by using foreign laboratories. The statement of task is provided in Box 1-1.
The National Research Council convened an ad hoc committee to conduct a scientific assessment of the requirements for an FAD and zoonotic disease research and diagnostic laboratory facility in the United States (see Appendix A for committee biosketches). The committee members have expertise in animal diseases, animal health, zoonotic disease threats to public health, the livestock industry, national security aspects of agriculture, agricultural economics, biosafety, biosecurity, and laboratory biocontainment.
4Estimate provided in the opening remarks to the committee by Tara O’Toole, US Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary for Science and Technology. Opening remarks were given at the committee meeting held on April 13, 2012, in Washington, DC.