NRC releases assessment of NBAF options

A recently released report from the National Research Council concluded that it is imperative that the United States build a large-animal biocontainment laboratory.

The report said that the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility as currently designed would meet the need to protect animal and public health, but that a scaled-back version tied to a laboratory network is also a viable possibility, according to

The Plum Island Animal Disease Center located off of Long Island should continue to remain in operation to address ongoing needs, according to the report, but cannot be relied upon as a long term solution, according to

"It is very outdated. It is inefficient. It doesn't meet current biosecurity level standards, even with continued investment it wouldn't be able to meet standards," Terry McElwain, a pathologist at Washington State University and chairman of the NRC's NBAF committee, said, reports.

Using the NBAF as a central laboratory in an integrated system of national and international partnerships to defend against emerging or introduced animal diseases is a viable alternative, but one that could be more costly than relying primarily on the NBAF alone.

The scope of the report excludes an assessment of specific site locations for proposed facility, and therefore does not compare the relative risks of any single option. The committee concluded that to most appropriately determine a course of action, all factors should be included in a comprehensive assessment.

Regardless or the options considered, the report recommends that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Agriculture develop a national strategy to address foreign animal and zoonotic disease threats that utilizes a distributed system in order to balance capital costs with research priorities, according to