Establishing protocols for tick containment at Biosafety Level 4.
Tick-borne diseases continue to emerge and have a great impact on public health and agriculture. In addition, many of the agents of tick-borne diseases, which are classified as Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) viruses, have the potential to be used as biothreat agents. In spite of the known importance of these pathogens, there is an acute shortage of facilities and trained personnel to study the pathogenesis of tick-borne diseases and to assess vaccine as well as other therapeutic interventions against tick-borne diseases as they are transmitted in nature. We, at the Galveston National Laboratory, have developed facilities and protocols to safely work with BSL4 virus-infected ticks. This capability adds tremendous value to the Nation's training and research endeavors. In this report we describe the procedures and protocols to establish tick work in a BSL4 laboratory.