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Prion. 2013 Sep-Oct;7(5):420-33. doi: 10.4161/pri.26533. Epub 2013 Sep 20.

Laboratory activities involving transmissible spongiform encephalopathy causing agents: risk assessment and biosafety recommendations in Belgium.

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Biosafety and Biotechnology Unit; Institut Scientifique de Santé Publique; Brussels, Belgium.
Orientation and Veterinary Support; National Reference Laboratory for TSE (Belgium & Luxemburg); Veterinary and Agrochemical Research Center; Brussels, Belgium.


Since the appearance in 1986 of epidemic of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), a new form of neurological disease in cattle which also affected human beings, many diagnostic and research activities have been performed to develop detection and therapeutic tools. A lot of progress was made in better identifying, understanding and controlling the spread of the disease by appropriate monitoring and control programs in European countries. This paper reviews the recent knowledge on pathogenesis, transmission and persistence outside the host of prion, the causative agent of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) in mammals with a particular focus on risk (re)assessment and management of biosafety measures to be implemented in diagnostic and research laboratories in Belgium. Also, in response to the need of an increasing number of European diagnostic laboratories stopping TSE diagnosis due to a decreasing number of TSE cases reported in the last years, decontamination procedures and a protocol for decommissioning TSE diagnostic laboratories is proposed.


biosafety recommendations; contained use; inactivation; laboratory decommissioning; risk assessment; transmissible spongiform encephalopathy

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