International Veterinary 
Biosafety Workgroup

History of the IVBW Group

The concept of the First International Veterinary Biosafety Workshop was jointly developed by Dr. Roger Breeze an Dr. Keith Murray. Both recognized most countries throughout the world share similar problems in operating veterinary containment facilities and conducting research on livestock and poultry diseases; namely, how to prevent the introduction of foreign animal diseases into the country, strategies for control and eradication of foreign diseases, the need to conduct research involving animals without release of viable agents into the environment, the necessity to provide a safe and healthy work environment for employees, prevent cross contamination among research materials and animals, and commonality involving biosafety issues and facility requirements to succeed in fulfilling their assigned mission. They summarized that presently, biosafety exchanges among veterinary laboratories dealing with similar issues were quite limited and existed principally between the United States and Australia, United States and Canada and Australia and England. Quickly, it became evident that other countries had similar experiences and a wider exchange among biosafety officers should prove very beneficial and productive to eliminate the need for each to develop the same programs.

It was evident that scientific exchanges occurred sporadically among countries conducting research on foreign disease agents to protect their respective livestock and poultry industries and to ensure a stable and hopefully expanding export market. Eventually, Dr. Murray and Breeze decided to consider joint sponsorship of a biosafety meeting and to request Mr. Manuel S. Barbeito and Dr. Tony Della- Porta to organize and conduct the First International Veterinary Biosafety Workshop for Biosafety Officers among veterinary laboratories who operate containment facilities. Ultimately, the first meeting was held on October 16-18, 1991 in Knoxville, Tenesse, USA. Participants from Australia, Canada, England, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the USA presented their institutes and discussed minimal common safety features.

The result of this first meeting was a paper with the title: Desirable features of biocontainment facilities for agricultural and research animals. Published in OIE Technical Bulletin (Rev. sci. Tech. Off. Int. Epiz., 1995,14(3) 873-887).

The second Workshop was held at Geelong in Australia in March 10-12, 1993. Topics at that workshop were: Common problems with transportation, discussion of the possibility to develop an international risk classification scheme.

The third Workshop was held at Mittelhäusern, Switzerland in May 23-27, 1994. Topics were: Agents lists, risk groups and biosafety levels and vaccination policy.

The fourth Workshop was held at Valdeolmos, Spain in June 5-9, 1995. Topics were: Agent classification and test and certification of containment facilities. A definition of four risk groups for animal pathogens was agreed.

The fifth Workshop was held at Winnipeg Canada in October 15-18, 1996. Topics were: Mission statements and goals of the group and facility maintenance and monitoring protocols and standard operating procedures. As a result, the mission statements and goals were sent in a letter to the president of OIE and a home page on internet on the Belgian Biosafety server was set up.

The sixth Workshop was held at Ames USA in June 8-11, 1998. Topics were: Design, construction and operation of veterinary containment laboratories. A paper resulted with the title: Veterinary containment laboratories: operation, design/construction and commissioning/certification and was submitted to OIE.

The seventh Workshop was held in Paris France in June 12-16, 2000. Topics were: Review of general concepts for design and construction of veterinary biosafety facilities, recommendations for safe operational procedures for use in veterinary animal containment facilities.

The 8th workshop took place in Upper Hutt, New Zealand between 18 - 20 March, 2002.

The 9th workshop was held in Panama City, Republic of Panama between 6 - 8 October 2003.

The 10th workshop was held at the National Veterinary Institute, Uppsala, Sweden between 10 -12 May 2005.

The 11th workshop was held in Singapore hosted by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority 27-30 November 2006

The 12th workshop was hosted by SENASA, Buenos Aires, Argentina 22-25 April 2008.

The 13th workshop with a focus of design qualifications was hosted by the National Animal Disease Center in Aimes,  Iowa 24-28 Oct 2009.

The 14th workshop was hosted jointly by the Staatens Serum Institute and the Division of Virology at the National Veterinary Institute in Lindholm, Copenhagen 23-26 May 2011.

The 15th workshop was held in Pretoria, hosted by the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa (Nov 2012).

The 16th workshop celebrated the completion of the new main laboratory at The Pirbright Institute (June2014) cohosted by The Pirbright Institute, The Animal and Plant Health Agency and Public Health England.

The 17th workshop was back in Geelong 22 years after the second workshop hosted by the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (Nov 2015). 

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