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The Viral Special Pathogens Branch’s (VSPB) charter is the study of highly infectious viruses, many of which cause hemorrhagic manifestations in humans. Our daily work involves the investigation of viruses of Ebola virus, Marburg virus, Lassa fever virus, Rift Valley fever virus, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus, other Arenavirus and Hantavirus, and additional recently identified and emerging viral species.

Almost all of these viruses are classified as Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) pathogens and as such must be handled in special facilities designed to contain them safely. VSPB operates one of the world’s few BSL-4 laboratories. In addition, VSPB provides technical and research/diagnostic materials to many international laboratories and collaborators. VSBP staff members are trained to respond to global disease outbreaks and provide assistance for disease detection and control measures.

VSPB uses the following disciplines and tools to understand and control these diseases: public health practices, molecular biology, molecular evolution of viruses, clinical diagnostics, clinical medicine, epidemiology, immunology, pathogenesis, comparative biology, ecology, and community education. The Infectious Disease Pathology Branch (IDPB) at CDC assists VSPB with diagnostic pathology and surveillance.