National Reference Centre for Anthrax (NANT)

The biocontainment lab of Spiez Laboratory enables safe handling of human pathogens of hazard categories 3 and 4.

About the reference centre

As tasked by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), the National Reference Centre for Anthrax (NANT) provides both referral diagnostics and monitoring for highly pathogenic bacteria as well as bacterial microorganisms relevant to bioterrorism.

The Reference Centre was founded in 2001 and directed by the Institute for Veterinary Bacteriology of the University of Bern until the end of 2013. At the beginning of 2014, its mandate was transferred to SPIEZ LABORATORY

Tasks and objectives

The Biology division of SPIEZ LABORATORY is the specialist agency for the protection against biological threats and dangers and is specialised in analysis and diagnosis of highly pathogenic bacteria and toxins. Within the context of its referral function as NANT, referral diagnostics are provided for the following bacteria relevant to bioterrorism:

  • Bacillus anthracis (anthrax)
  • Francisella tularensis (tularaemia)
  • Yersinia pestis (plague)
  • Brucella spp. (brucellosis)
  • Clostridium botulinum (botulism)

NANT also has the following duties:

  • Reference source
  • Quality assurance and research relating to test development
  • Scientific consultation, international networking and doctrine
  • Monitoring, early warning and assistance in implementing measures


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