The Centre for Biosecurity and Biopreparedness (CBB) coordinates all activities related to biological weapons at Statens Serum Institut (SSI). The Centre maintains a 24/7 response capability to counter the effects of a biological incident of accidental or malicious origins.
The activities of CBB are research and knowledge-based and include medical, microbiological and weapons expertise. CBB is part of the national preparedness organisation against security threats. The handling of biological security threats involves a large number of public authorities and has three major objectives; surveillance, preparedness, and response.
Surveillance consists of information gathering with special attention to technical and biological aspects as well as the monitoring of disease incidents.
The surveillance efforts take place nationally and internationally and aim at targeting the most relevant biological security threats in order to be able to prioritise preparedness measures.
Surveillance is carried out by combining several elements:
Bioterrorist events are divided into two main categories: type 1-incidents where there is a primary attack, ie.it is suspected that an intentional release of biological warfare agents has taken place, and type 2-incidents in which a disease outbreak is caused by a previous, clandestine attack.
Internationally, previous type 2-incidents that have been caused by an intentional attack, have involved microorganisms that can be found in the natural environment in Denmark (i.e. Salmonella). Typically, this has been in connection with contamination of food. Detection of type 2-incidents is difficult, and timely intervention is essential if effective countermeasures are to be employed. However, the laboratory analyses and procedures of CBB are organised in a manner suitable to handle also type 2-incidents.
Incident response to suspected bioterror events is different in relation to type 1- and type 2-incidents. Type 1-incidents primarily involve the Police, while a type 2 event primarily involves health care personnel. In both cases, diagnostic investigations are crucial to identify the biological agent involved – if any – so that relevant countermeasures can be arranged. Furthermore, it is crucial to define the hazard area so that further exposure to persons can be avoided, and already exposed persons can be treated. Diagnostic investigations are carried out by CBB and include special Field Investigation Teams that are on 24/7 hour duty. The teams are responsible for sampling and analysis, and personnel at the Centre for Biosecurity and Biopreparedness are responsible for dispersal assessments and decision support.
A third category – type 3 also exists. Type 3 incidents are typically associated with bioaccidents, ie at laboratories or a traffic accident involving biological substances regulated by the Biosecurity Act. Type 3 incidents is handled with the same tools as type 1 and 2 incidents.
Unauthorised persons must be kept out of possible areas of danger until CBB has ensured that the required measures to counter any possible danger have been taken. Countermeasures can include medical treatment, isolation, use of protective equipment, isolation, decontamination. Choice of countermeasures is partly based on CBB’s general expertise as well as prognostic calculations in the actual situation.