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NIV Pune lab gets BSL-4

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From a humble beginning as temporary Virus Research Centre in 1953 to study only arthropod-borne viruses, the now prestigious National Institute of Virology (NIV) here is all set to operationalise its new state-of-the-art laboratory which is in compliance with the international standards.

The new laboratory graded at Bio-Safety Level (BSL)-4 is housed in the Microbial Containment Complex (MCC) premises and would be the first of its kind in the Asian region to have the highest level of bio-safety where highly infectious and exotic viruses impacting human health will be tested. The World Health Organisation (WHO) just last month recognised NIV as a collaborating centre for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.

A biosafety level is the level of containment precautions required to isolate dangerous biological agents in an enclosed facility. The levels of containment range from the lowest biosafety level 1 to the highest at level 4.

“We already have a BSL-3 + laboratory at the existing Microbial Containment Complex (MCC) but with the BSL-4, we have will have the world’s best laboratory at on par with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention at Atlanta,” D.T. Mourya, Group Leader, High Containment Laboratory told The Hindu. It is expected to be made functional by the year end and Institute has already trained people who would have access to this laboratory.

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 fever, Lassa fever, Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) and small pox to name a few.

While dealing with biological hazards at this level the use of a protective gear and a self-contained oxygen supply is mandatory. The entrance and exit of a level four biolaboratory contains contain multiple showers, a vacuum 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 opening at the same time. All air and water service going to and coming from a biosafety level 4 lab have to undergo similar decontamination procedures to eliminate the possibility of an accidental release.

“We have carried out the highest bio-risk assessment for the laboratory to ensure that no virus goes out into the environment even during the most adverse conditions like an earthquake. It is equipped to deal with bioterrorism too. The vault of the laboratory will never be damaged or destroyed and hence infectious viruses can never be released into the environment,” Dr. Mourya explained.

The existing BSL-3 MCC laboratory at NIV has already handled CCHF outbreak in Ahmedabad. The virus was identified within 24 hours and instructions issued to the local administration for isolation and handling of patients with hours that helped in containing the fatal disease that claimed the for lives including that of the doctor and a nurse who treated the patient.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2019 4:35:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/niv-pune-lab-gets-bsl4/article2305614.ece

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