In addition to fundamental and strategic research, The Pirbright Institute provides expertise and capacity for laboratory investigations to monitor livestock for high consequence viral diseases and underpins global disease control efforts. 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
- Peste des petits ruminants
- African horse sickness
- Vesicular stomatitis virus
- Sheep and goat pox
- Lumpy skin disease
- Marek's disease (at Compton Laboratory)
The Pirbright Reference Laboratories provide the following services to Defra:
- Tests to detect the pathogens or antibodies against them. This service is provided on a 24/7 basis
- Modification and validation of tests to deal with new, variant forms of the pathogens
- Laboratory characterisation of pathogens in order to determine their origin, make predictions about their likely mode of transmission and the success of different control strategies, such as vaccination
- Supply of specialist reagents and materials to other laboratories in case multiple diagnostic centres are needed to deal with a major epidemic
- Animal experiments with the pathogens in order to evaluate biological properties such as host specificity, routes of transmission and efficacy of vaccines
Shipment of Infectious Material to the Pirbright Institute: the following film provides advice on the safe and secure packaging and shipment of infectious material to the Pirbright Institute.
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Copyright Pirbright Institute ©
Please ensure all samples are adequately packaged to prevent breakage, address the package:
FAO Pirbright Reference Laboratories,
The Pirbright Institute,
Please ensure sender information is given on the back of the package. Failure to do so may result in delayed results.
The services provided to international organisations (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, the European
Union, and the World Organisation for Animal Health, OIE) include:
- Receiving samples from overseas for diagnosis and characterisation (strain-typing, vaccine-matching)
- Organisation of inter-laboratory comparative testing exercises
- Development and supply of reference materials and kits
- Animal experiments with the pathogens in order to evaluate biological properties such as host specificity, routes of transmission, and efficacy of vaccines
- Training scientists from other countries
Funding of the institutes Reference Laboratories comes from Defra, FAO and the EU, though not from the OIE.