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The 21st century has been marked by the frequent globalization of infectious diseases at an unprecedented speed.

The current epidemic context − outbreak of Ebola, and even more recently Lassa – demonstrates the reality of dangerous infectious threats and the worldwide vulnerability towards them.

In this globalized environment of interdependent trade, travel, migration and international economic markets, many factors now play an important role in the rise, emergence and reemergence of infectious disease, which demands a coordinated, global response, involving all European capacities, to prevent and respond to the spread of epidemics more effectively.

All infectious microorganisms are classified by risk group according to the pathogenicity, modes of transmission and host range of the organism. The most highly infectious pathogens are classified as risk group 4 and are handled and stored in Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) facilities.

The European Research Infrastructure on Highly Pathogenic Agents (ERINHA) is conceived to develop an adequate and coordinated effort of the European research capacities to address the challenges posed by these highly pathogenic micro-organisms infecting humans, with high risks for public health, society and the economy.