Government of Canada

Government of Canada

October 02, 2009 15:24 ET

Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health (CSCHAH)

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 2, 2009) -

- This Winnipeg based laboratory complex is a world leading infectious disease facility jointly operated by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

- CSCHAH houses the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease as well as the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory, both world leaders in their fields.

- The official announcement that the facility would be built in Winnipeg was made by then Health Minister, Jake Epp, in October 1987. Following an extensive design process, construction began in December 1992.

- While some programs started as early as the spring of 1998, the official opening of the facility occurred in June of 1999.

- Building this laboratory was visionary, as it opened about the time that concerns regarding humans contracting BSE surfaced and just before that anthrax attacks in the US, which was followed closely by the West Nile virus incursion into North America, the SARS outbreak, BSE in Canada, Avian Influenza outbreaks, pandemic concerns, the listeria outbreak and now H1N1. This facility was at the forefront of the response to all of these situations, leading the laboratory investigations.

- As the first facility in the world to combine laboratories for human and animal disease research at the highest level of biocontainment, it provides a unique environment in which researchers can collaborate as they study established, emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases of both humans and animals.

- The co-location of these two national laboratories was revolutionary and is admired throughout the international community. It not only saves Canadians money in operational costs, it allows for close collaboration and consultation as many of the diseases the scientists are working with can cross between animals and humans.

- Currently, PHAC and CFIA staff are collaborating on several research projects related to the H1N1 outbreak, including the human and animal interface.

- Both laboratories provide diagnostic services generally unavailable elsewhere in the country and support laboratory diagnosis activities at front line labs. They also engage in applied and discovery research to improve diagnostics, develop therapeutics and vaccines, and increase understanding of infectious diseases and their spread.

- The facility contains Canada's only Containment Level 4 (CL 4) laboratories, providing the capability to work safely with the most serious human and animal diseases.

- The CL4 laboratories ensure Canada's diagnostic capabilities for any known disease agent that may be brought into the country. It also enables research into deadly diseases, such as the Ebola, Marburg and Nipah viruses, to identify just a few.

- Sixty-one percent of laboratory space in the facility is classified as Containment Level 2, while 35% is dedicated to Containment Level 3 laboratories. The CL4 laboratories represent less than 4% of the laboratory area. Containment Level 2 laboratories can be found in hospitals, doctor's offices and universities. There are numerous CL3 laboratories throughout the country.

- Everything exiting CL3 and 4 laboratory areas is decontaminated in some manner: air is filtered; waste is treated; staff shower.

- Currently close to 500 Government of Canada employees work at the complex.

- As part of Canada's Economic Action Plan, the federal government recently announced it is investing $24.2 million to upgrade and optimize CSCHAH's shipping and receiving areas. This will strengthen the government's ability to anticipate, prepare for and respond to threats to both animal and public health, like the current H1N1 flu virus outbreak.

- The accomplishments of the National Microbiology Laboratory and the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease are many, these are a few of the highlights:

- Vaccines for Ebola, Lassa fever and Marburg virus have been developed.

- Unique mobile laboratory capabilities have been developed; deployments have included high level meetings such as the Summit of the Americas, as well as outbreak responses to places such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Kenya, Angola, China, and Vietnam.

- Both labs serve as international reference centres for various diseases.

- Development and participation in various laboratory networks; co-chair of the laboratory network of the Global Health Security Action Group.

- Provision of training nationally and internationally on foreign animal diseases, biosafety and containment, counter-terrorism, laboratory diagnostics, and others.

- Both laboratories have ISO certification, as does the Rendering and Biowaste Treatment System.

- A strong relationship with the local community is very important to the Canadian Science Centre. A Community Liaison Committee was established in 1999 and continues to meet several times per year. An Incident Reporting System is in place to ensure that appropriate people, particularly the Community Liaison Committee, are kept well informed of events at the Centre.

- Safety and security are of paramount importance at CSCHAH. All individuals working at CSCHAH are cleared to Secret level, regardless of the work they do. A variety of physical and electronic security systems are in place including closed circuit television cameras that are strategically positioned inside and outside the building. We do not divulge details of security systems so as not to diminish their effectiveness.

- The Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health is considered by many to be the best such facility in the world. Labs around the world look to CSCHAH as a model for diagnostics, research, facility design, containment, biosafety and community relations.

Contact Information

  • Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health (CSCHAH)
    Kelly Keith