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B.C. opens lab for livestock diseases

British Columbia expects to be able to turn around tests more quickly at a new containment lab, for swifter response to livestock diseases.

The provincial government on Thursday opened its $14 million containment-level 3 (CL3) lab in the Fraser Valley.

The CL3 lab is to be used to detect and characterize animal diseases such as BSE, avian flu, West Nile virus, foreign diseases such as foot-and-mouth, and disease-causing zoonotic agents that could jump from animals to people.

“Having a (CL3) lab in B.C. ensures we are fully prepared to identify and respond to incidents of animal disease faster and more efficiently,” Agriculture Minister Stan Hagen said during the official opening.

Built as an addition to the existing Animal Health Centre in Abbotsford, the newly lab is the only facility of its kind in Canada associated with a provincial veterinary diagnostic laboratory, the province said.

The new lab allows scientists to respond faster to each specific disease threat through detailed characterization of disease-causing agents, the province added.

Plus, having the lab in Abbotsford will save time and expense by way of having to send fewer samples to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency lab in Winnipeg, the province said.

The lab project, which was built starting in Decmeber 2006, came in about $500,000 under budget, is accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) as a full-service diagnostic laboratory and is one of only two laboratories in Canada to get that distinction, the province said.

B.C. Agriculture Council chair Garnet Etsell said in the province’s release he is pleased to see B.C.’s diagnostic capabilities expand. “This new laboratory will help ensure B.C.’s producers have access to some of the best animal health diagnostic services in the country.”

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