New medical procedures set for biodefense facility

Kansas State University and Mercy Regional Health Center have formed a partnership to adjust their occupational health practices and medical procedures to apply to the new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility planned for 2018 in Manhattan, Kansas.

The university and health center currently have a partnership to provide medical care oversight for the University's own Biosecurity Research Institute, which is a biosafety level 3 and a biosafety level 3 agricultural facility. The NBAF would require the partnership to adjust their procedures to cover a biosafety level 4 laboratory, Newswise.comreports.

The NBAF, which will be operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, will focus on research for diseases that naturally exist in the world, like Rift Valley fever and swine fever. This research may help to protect the U.S. from biological threats by developing treatments and effective vaccines.

"Mercy is very excited about the partnership we currently have with K-State, and we look forward to working with NBAF management and the Department of Homeland Security as the plans for NBAF move forward," John Broberg, Mercy's president and CEO, said, according to "We will continue to work with K-State to ensure that we have prepared our physicians and staff appropriately to deal with medical and other emergency response events at NBAF."

Before researchers begin working at NBAF, they will receive a fitness test and blood work to assess their immune status before getting appropriate vaccinations. They will carry wallet cards that list what pathogens they are researching and potential infection symptoms. The doctor's at Mercy are trained to treat any exposure to pathogens that could occur.