Security Sensitive Biological Agents (SSBA)

The Security Sensitive Biological Agents (SSBA) Regulatory Scheme limits the opportunities for acts of bioterrorism or biocrime to occur using harmful biological agents.

Curtin is not registered to work with SSBAs and it is, therefore illegal for any of our people to store or work with SSBAs.

What are SSBAs? View the list of SSBAs.

SSBAs are weaponisable pathogens or toxins that could be used to make a bioweapon.

Tier 1 Agents

  • Abrin (reportable quantity 5 mg)
  • Bacillus anthracis (Anthraxvirulent strains)
  • Botulinum toxin (non-therapeutic forms, reportable quantity 0.5 mg)
  • Ebolavirus
  • Foot-and-mouth disease virus
  • Highly pathogenic influenza virus, infecting humans
  • Marburgvirus
  • Ricin (reportable quantity 5 mg)
  • Rinderpest virus
  • SARS coronavirus
  • Variola virus (Smallpox)
  • Yersinia pestis (Plague)

Tier 2 Agents

  • African swine fever virus
  • Capripoxvirus (Sheep pox virus and Goat pox virus)
  • Classical swine fever virus
  • Clostridium botulinum (Botulism; toxin-producing strains)
  • Francisella tularensis (Tularaemia)
  • Lumpy skin disease virus
  • Peste-des-petits-ruminants virus
  • Yellow fever virus (non-vaccine strains)

How do I begin working with SSBAs at Curtin?

All activities related to SSBAs are regulated by the National Health Security Act (2007) – Part 3. It is illegal to have any SSBA unless it is being held following all the requirements of the SSBA regulatory system.

Curtin is not registered to work with SSBAs and it is therefore illegal for any of our people to store or work with SSBAs.

If you want to work with any SSBA in the future, then you must contact the Biosafety Advisor bernadette.bradley@curtin.edu.au and the Chair of the IBC R.Steuart@curtin.edu.au immediately, to discuss the possibility that you might be able to work with SSBAs in the future, once the proper registration has been gained from the Federal Government Department of Health and Aging.

It is possible to culture an SSBA from an environmental sample or a biological sample, without specifically meaning to do so.   If you become aware that you have cultured a presumptive SSBA, you must immediately contact the Biosafety Advisor bernadette.bradley@curtin.edu.au 0401 103 655 or the Chair of the IBC R.Steuart@curtin.edu.au.

Legislation governing the use of SSBAs in Australia Learn about the National Health Security Act - Part 3.

Part 3 of the National Health Security Act 2007 and Regulations 2008 describes a national scheme for the regulation of SSBAs in Australia and builds on Australia’s obligations under the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (1975) and UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004).

The Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) is the administrative body under the Act.  Any institution that intends to store or perform research with, SSBAs must be registered with DoHa before the agent is imported into their site.

From www.health.gov.au/SSBA:

“The deliberate release of harmful biological agents such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and toxins has the potential to cause significant damage to human health, the environment and the Australian economy.

In 2006, the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) Report on the Regulation and Control of Biological Agents identified that the regulations in place at the time focused on safety rather than security; and that there was a need to regulate the secure storage, possession, use and transport of security sensitive biological agents to minimise the risk of use for terrorism or criminal purposes.

The aim of the SSBA Regulatory Scheme is to limit the opportunities for acts of bioterrorism or biocrime to occur using harmful biological agents and to provide a legislative framework for managing the security of SSBAs. The scheme was developed using risk management principles to achieve a balance between counter-terrorism concerns and the interests of the regulated community and aims to maintain full access to SSBAs for those with a legitimate need. The SSBA Regulatory Scheme also builds on Australia’s obligations under the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention and UN Security Council Resolution 1540.”  (www.health.gov.au/SSBA – September 2015)