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New veterinary lab opens for BSE/TSE testing


Winnipeg, MB – Manitoba has opened a new section of its provincial veterinary laboratory dedicated to testing for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and other transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) such as chronic wasting disease (CWD) in elk and deer and scrapie in sheep.

"This lab will provide testing capabilities within our provincial network and provide scientific testament to the safety and quality of Manitoba meat," says Rosann Wowchuk, minister of the province’s agriculture, food and rural initiatives department. "We know disease surveillance is essential in monitoring the health of Manitoba herds and flocks that enter the food chain, and to meet the requirements of our export customers for livestock and livestock products."

The new lab, located in the agriculture, food and rural initiatives department’s agricultural services complex on the University of Manitoba campus, received $350,000 from the province to renovate the area to level-two safety standards and $102,800 from the department’s capital-asset budget. The federal government has committed $300,000 for new specialized equipment in the lab which represents a portion of the $821,800 funding received by the veterinary laboratory under the federal-provincial Agricultural Policy Framework (APF) agreement.

The facility meets all physical and operational practices for biosafety and all biocontainment requirements of a top-quality level-two laboratory. A quality-control system also ensures the safety of staff and the accuracy and traceability of test results.

Lab staff will include one veterinarian and two medical laboratory technologists. Accreditation and TSE testing-proficiency training will be provided by both the National BSE Reference Laboratory in Winnipeg and the National CWD/Scrapie Reference Laboratory in Ottawa.

The work done at the provincial TSE lab provides primary test results. Any suspicious results are then sent to the appropriate national reference laboratory for confirmation.