11/08/2012

Assessment of the bio-preparedness and of the training of the French hospital laboratories in the event of biological threat (Euro Surveill., abstract, edited)

[Source: Eurosurveillance, full text: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

Eurosurveillance, Volume 17, Issue 45, 08 November 2012

Research articles

Assessment of the bio-preparedness and of the training of the French hospital laboratories in the event of biological threat

A Mérens1, J D Cavallo2, F Thibault3, F Salicis4, J F Munoz5, R Courcol ()6, P Binder7

  1. Hôpital Bégin, Service de Santé des Armées (Military Health Service), Saint-Mandé, France
  2. Ecole du Val-de-Grâce, Service de Santé des Armées (Military Health Service), Paris, France
  3. Institut de Recherche Biomédicale des Armées (French Armed Biomedical Research Institute), Grenoble, France
  4. Direction Générale de la Santé (General Direction of Health), Paris, France
  5. Laboratory of Hydrology of Nancy, Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire de l’Alimentation, de l’Environnement et du Travail (ANSES, French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety), Maisons-Alfort Cedex, France
  6. Institute of Microbiology, Centre Hospitalier Régional Universitaire de Lille,(Lille University Medical Center), University of Lille Nord de France, Lille, France
  7. Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM, National Institute of Health and Medical Research), Paris, France

Citation style for this article: Mérens A, Cavallo JD, Thibault F, Salicis F, Munoz JF, Courcol R, Binder P. Assessment of the bio-preparedness and of the training of the French hospital laboratories in the event of biological threat. Euro Surveill. 2012;17(45):pii=20312. Available online: http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=20312
Date of submission: 31 October 2011


A national laboratory network ‘Biotox-Piratox’ was created in 2003 in France with the purpose of detecting, confirming and reporting potential biological and chemical threat agents. This network is divided into three levels: Level 1 is dedicated to the evaluation of risks (biological, chemical, radiological), to sampling and packing. Level 2 consists of university and military hospitals, who deal with biological specimens, and of environmental and veterinary laboratories, who deal with environmental and animal samples. Level 3 comprises national reference laboratories and the Jean Mérieux biosafety level (BSL)-4 laboratory in Lyon. This report presents the results of four bio-preparedness exercises to check critical points in the processing of samples. These exercises took place in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011. Each of them consisted of two parts. The first part was the identification of an unknown bacterial strain and its susceptibility to antibiotics used as a default in case of a bioterrorist event. The second part was the detection of Class III microorganisms, mainly by molecular techniques. The main lesson learnt in these exercises was that the key to successful detection of biological agents in case of a biological threat was standardisation and validation of the methods implemented by all the laboratories belonging to the network.

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