In an outbreak situation, rapid diagnostics is crucial for identifying the responsible pathogen and initiating measures to bring the situation under control. The RKI offers diagnostic services in several national reference centres and consulting laboratories as well as other specialised laboratories for specific agents and diagnostic methods. At present, specialised laboratories are available, for instance for highly pathogenic bacteria and microbial toxins, for viral haemorrhagic fever viruses and retroviruses. Apart from this, RKI scientists will soon take up work at the new BSL 4 laboratory, a laboratory for viruses requiring the highest biosafety level.
Another part of the RKI’s mission is to identify unusual biological events with highly pathogenic agents that might be used with bioterrorist intent, to assess the implications for the general public and to develop concepts for the prevention and/or control of infections or poisonings by such agents.