The Pirbright Institute receives strategic funding from BBSRC

In addition to fundamental and strategic research, The Pirbright Institute's Pirbright Laboratory provides a vital service in real time at times of outbreaks of disease, both nationally and internationally. Specifically, the Institute provides Reference Laboratories in respect of 10 exotic viral diseases of livestock. These Reference Laboratories work on behalf of national (Defra) and international organisations.

Reference Laboratories have skilled and expert personnel, validated diagnostic tests, essential reagents and archive materials (viruses, antisera), and, in our case, facilities for experiments in animals, to respond to outbreaks in a timely manner. The principal services provided vary according to the client.

  • Foot-and-mouth disease
  • Swine vesicular disease
  • African swine fever
  • Rinderpest
  • Peste des petits ruminants
  • Bluetongue
  • African horse sickness
  • Vesicular stomatitis virus
  • Sheep and goat pox
  • Lumpy skin disease
  • Marek's disease (at Compton Laboratory)


Bluetongue is a particular concern to the UK at the moment. The tests that the Pirbright Bluetongue Reference Laboratory performs are briefly described here. More information about our bluetongue research programme can be found under the Research tab in the Vector-borne viral Diseases Programme description.