USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) researchers at NBAF will work to deliver scientific information and countermeasures to protect U.S. agriculture and combat threats to public health from foreign animal diseases that exist in animals but can infect humans. USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service protects U.S. livestock from foreign and emerging diseases by conducting diagnostic testing of suspicious animal health situations and training veterinarians in the detection of high consequence animal diseases.
The following diseases have currently been defined by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) mission requirements for study at the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF):
- Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). Viral disease of domestic and wild cloven-hoofed animals; acute disease characterized by fever, lameness, and vesicular lesions on the feet, tongue, mouth and teats; FMD is considered to be one of the most contagious, infectious diseases known; cost estimates of an introduction of FMD in the U.S. are more than $37 billion.
- Classical Swine Fever (CSF). Wild and domestic swine are the only known natural reservoir; widespread throughout the world and has the potential to cause devastating epidemics, particularly in countries free of the disease; any outbreak of CSF would have serious consequences for domestic and international trade of swine and swine products; improved countermeasures are needed.
- African Swine Fever (ASF). Infected animals have high mortality rates; effective countermeasures are not available for infected animals; no vaccines are available to prevent infection; no treatment exists for ASF.
- Rift Valley Fever (RVF). Virus affects human beings and cloven-hoofed animals (sheep, goats, cattle, camels, buffalo and deer); suitable countermeasures to respond in the U.S. do not exist; risk for establishment of endemic disease; ranked as a major disease of concern with USDA, DHS, and other stakeholders.
- Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP). Caused by an infective microorganism (Mycoplasma mycoides); primarily affects cattle including European-bred cattle and Zebu; a related form can affect goats; may survive for days in the environment; no treatment available.
- Japanese Encephalitis (JE) Virus. Similar to St. Louis encephalitis virus; JE virus is amplified in the blood of domestic pigs and wild birds; the virus can infect humans, most domestic animals, birds, bats, snakes and frogs.
- Nipah Virus. Virus was discovered in 1999; causes disease in swine and in humans through contact with infectious animals; mode of transmission between animals and from animals to humans is uncertain (appears to require close contact with infected tissues or body fluids); caused respiratory disease and encephalitis in people in Malaysia and Singapore; no drug therapies have yet been proven to be effective in treating Nipah infection; no countermeasures exist.
- Hendra Virus. Formerly called equine morbillivirus; first isolated in 1994; the natural reservoir for Hendra virus is still under investigation; human beings and equines seem to be predominately affected; caused respiratory and neurological disease in horses and humans in Australia.
The NBAF research mission will be based on current pathogen and disease risk assessments, subject to change as threats and risk assessments change.
The work at NBAF will be aimed at ensuring our nation is prepared for and protected against high consequence animal diseases, including ones that can also affect people. This will protect our agriculture, our economy and our citizens alike.