High Consequence Pathogens

Where failure is not an option

Division: Epidemiology | Locations: London, Washington DC, Bangkok

Excellence in high-risk pathogens.

High Consequence Pathogens (HCPs) collectively encompass animal, human and plant pathogens of bacterial, viral or prion origin that have an extraordinarily high epidemic potential, limited or no means of prophylaxis and limited or no suitable means of treatment. Examples include not only well-known high-risk pathogens such as Ebola, Marburg virus or smallpox, but also emerging multidrug resistant infections like NDM-1 expressing Klebsiella pneumoniae.

Building on a synthesis of best practices, a battle-tested staff and easy integration of our computational resources into any organisation, the High Consequence Pathogens Advisory Teams will work seamlessly with existing resources on the ground while also drawing on CBRD's extensive resources, including cutting edge technology solutions, highly trained staff and specialist consultants.

Services offered
  • Outbreak investigation
  • Risk and prevention consulting
  • HCP storage and handling consulting
  • Public health liaison
  • Agent identification
  • Consulting on dual-use agents
  • Technical assistance
  • Genetic origin determination and analysis
  • Geospatial risk analysis integration
  • Simulations and agent-based model expertise
Client industries
  • Military and defence
  • Government and public sector
  • Life sciences
  • Research and education
  • Public health
Key personnel
  • Epidemiologists
  • Infectious disease physicians
  • Molecular geneticists
  • Microbiologists
  • Virologists
  • Computational epidemiologists
  • Bioforensic Investigation Teams (BFITs)
  • Biological Rapid Assessment Teams (BRATs)
  • Public Health Liaison Officers (PHLOs)
  • Biosecurity experts
  • Structural analysts
Dual Use Notice
  • The provision of some of these services may constitute, use or involve dual-use products and may be subject to country limitations. 

Prepared for emerging risks

The last decades have been marked by an emergence of high-consequence pathogens, including recent outbreaks of henipaviral encephalitis, viral haemorrhagic fevers and the first use of bacterial bioterrorism. CBRD's High Consequence Pathogens team, a section-level subdivision under the auspices of the Division of Epidemiology, provides forward-thinking leadership in defense and preparedness.

Emerging high-consequence pathogens may be responsible for a very small number of cases today, but they may become tomorrow's killers. The High Consequence Pathogens team provides expert advice to the public health, defence and national security sectors on these pathogens, while also conducting groundbreaking research on modeling, predicting, identifying and managing high consequence pathogens. Our expertise includes

  • Viral haemorrhagic fevers
  • Henipaviruses
  • Bacterial bioterrorism, esp. anthrax and C. botulinum
  • Novel factors of antibiotic resistance
  • Hantaviruses, esp. HPS
  • Poxviruses, including smallpox
  • Spatial modeling of disease propagation, especially in urban areas

Together with our partners in academia, government and industry, we provide our clients with a range of services, including preparedness planning, outbreak investigation and tracing, laboratory design and handling advice, safety and procedures audit and a range of further services. Alongside our active consulting role, the HCP section is also active in research. Our leading members' current research interests include:

  • Modeling viral propagation in densely populated urban areas
  • Pathogen-resilient spaces and urban planning strategies to reduce spread of airborne and droplet-borne diseases
  • Antibiotic stewardship, regional differentiation and the risk of engineered multidrug resistant pathogens
  • Bat-borne viral haemorrhagic fevers and immunological adaptations in Chiroptera that facilitates reservoir hosting of viral pathogens.
  • ZIKV and peripheral and central nervous system demyelinating sequelae
In the spotlight: High Consequence Pathogens

With only a handful of employees, High Consequence Pathogens (E/HCP) is one of the smallest branches (sub-sections) of CBRD, but one of the oldest – it has been part of CBRD’s practice since the beginning, as well as of its precursor. It arguably also gets a disproportionate share of press for its size.

Former Head of Epidemiology Mr Chris von Csefalvay, who led E/HCP during its first years and is now CBRD's acting Chief Scientist, describes the unit as a small but unique outfit. “We focus on low-incidence, high-impact diseases – mainly viral diseases that occur rarely, but have the potential to grow into devastating epidemics,” von Csefalvay describes his working group’s focus. “Among our concerns are the viral haemorrhagic fevers – Ebola, Marburg, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever and the hantavirus haemorrhagic fevers.” But it’s not all blood and gore: recently, they have set their eyes on another target.

Henipaviruses comprise the related bat-borne viruses, Hendra virus and Nipah virus. The latter has been causing sporadic outbreaks of often fatal encephalitis in South East Asia. “We are very concerned about Nipah in particular. While the annual incidence is less than twenty cases on average, mortality rates typically exceed 75% and have at times risen above 90%. It’s spread by a range of fruit bats, through saliva and urine. Food contaminated with Nipah virus then transmits the infection to humans. The recent spate of outbreaks in Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated parts of the planet, are especially worrisome.”

Like their object of study, the members of the High Consequence Pathogens branch punch significantly above their weight. “We are primarily a research division, but we have been prolific not only in research but in devising easy, actionable strategies to help locals minimise the risk of infection.”