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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: An Overview of the Design, Construction, and Operational Management of the US Department of Agriculture National Centers for Animal Health

item Zuelke, Kurt

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/28/2007
Publication Date: 8/29/2007
Citation: Zuelke, K.A., An Overview of the Design, Construction, and Operational Management of the US Department of Agriculture National Centers for Animal Health [abstract]. China Veterinary Biosafety Conference.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: World-wide interest and demand for high containment, biosecure facilities for veterinary medicine and animal health research is increasing. This demand has been spurred on in part by the recent emergence of potential zoonotic pathogens such as Avian Influenza, West Nile Virus, and Tuberculosis, among others. Increased global mobility of livestock and people heightens the potential for emerging livestock diseases to rapidly spread and become established with potentially dire economic consequences. A global network of biosecure research and diagnostic facilities is required to support the disease challenge and diagnostic studies that can lead to increased understanding of pathogenesis mechanisms, new diagnostic tools, and control strategies to counteract these emerging disease threats. High containment, biosecure veterinary diagnostics and animal health research facilities require highly specialized design and construction features. For example, the primary bio-containment barrier for challenge studies with large livestock species such as cattle is typically the animal room itself. Therefore, the walls and surfaces of these individual animal rooms must be designed and constructed to operate at negative pressures, to provide a biosecure and safe working environment for animals and employees, and to be impervious to pathogenic agents and repetitive exposure to cleaning and decontamination procedures. In addition, sophisticated air and waste handling engineering and operational control systems are required to assure that all animal wastes and exhaust air are decontaminated before exiting the building. Since the specific purpose and application of each of these facilities is unique to the end-users, they often employ one-of-kind design and construction features that are customized to each facility. In addition to their unique design features, high-containment animal health facilities are challenging to manage and operate. Research investigating potentially high-consequence pathogens naturally garners a high level of public interest and scrutiny and mandates that communication plans and community awareness programs are developed and implemented. Employee safety and health is of paramount importance and necessitates developing and managing extensive and detailed work practices and standard operating procedures to assure worker safety and health are maintained. Sophisticated waste treatment and air handling systems require initial commissioning and then ongoing testing and certification of their operational integrity. Operating and testing of these mechanical systems requires employing and training a highly skilled engineering and biosafety support workforce. Thus, not only are these high-containment animal health facilities expensive to design and construct, but they are also challenging and very expensive to manage and operate. The Unites States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently completing an extensive modernization and reconstruction of its animal health research, diagnostic and veterinary product testing facilities in Ames, Iowa. This US$460M project represents the largest construction program ever undertaken in the history of the USDA. These modernized facilities will ultimately comprise the USDA ARS National Animal Disease Center, the USDA APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories, and the USDA APHIS Center for Veterinary Biologics. These modernized facilities are now becoming operational. This overview presentation will provide examples of specific challenges encountered during the design, construction, and initial operation of the new USDA Ames facilities. An objective of this overview is to share lessons learned and establish and promote ongoing communication amongst the network of professionals who operate veterinary biosafety facilities worldwide.

Last Modified: 10/16/2017
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