The World’s Oldest Virus Research Lab
The World’s Oldest Virus Research Lab
New viruses and diseases, previously found only in tropical climates, are reaching Europe. Researchers in a high-security lab on the Baltic Sea island of Riems are working to put a stop to these dangerous viruses.

The Friedrich Loeffler Institute on the island of Riems can only be reached via a single bridge. The island lies in the Baltic Sea, and its isolated location is vital: Dangerous viruses are stored here, including Ebola, Rabies, Swine Fever, Crimean-Congo Fever and Sars-CoV-2.

The facility is one of only three such laboratories in the world - and the only one in Europe - where dangerous diseases can be researched using live animals such as cattle and pigs under high-security conditions. Researchers are working to understand how new pathogens spread, and to develop vaccines. It's a race against time, as viruses have long since come to have enormous global consequences.

African Swine Fever is on the rise in Eastern Europe. In Germany, wild boars were found dead of ASF for the first time in the fall of 2020. It’s vital to stop the further spread of the disease. So far in Germany, its rampant spread has been limited to wild pigs, but there is a high risk that the virus will begin to affect pig farms.

An outbreak in Germany, the world's third-largest pork producer, would be an economic disaster. Now, a promising potential vaccine is being tested in Riems. It could prove to be a life-saving solution.

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