Canada Deploys Mobile Laboratory to Assist in African Ebola Outbreak

Canadian researchers take action in response to international public health crisis

WINNIPEG, MB, Sept. 30, 2012 /CNW/ - At the request of the World Health Organization, the Public Health Agency of Canada is deploying its mobile laboratory to help respond to an outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, today commended the Agency's humanitarian efforts.

"Our Government is committed to supporting global public health," said Minister Aglukkaq. "As leaders in this field, we are pleased to assist our international partners in responding to this deadly outbreak to help save lives."

Agency scientists from the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg will set up its mobile lab in the affected region to provide rapid diagnostic testing, which is pivotal in responding effectively to the outbreak. On-site lab tests that can produce results in only a few hours allow for faster isolation of Ebola cases and better treatment for all patients. This reduces the risk of people who are infected from spreading the virus to others, which saves lives and helps contain the outbreak.

"This is a very serious situation and the Agency is proud to assist in the response," said Dr. Frank Plummer, Scientific Director General of the National Microbiology Laboratory. "It's very important that the international community come together to help control an outbreak of this nature, both for humanitarian reasons and to protect the health of all global citizens."

The team is being led by Dr. Gary Kobinger, who has built a strong global presence with his research into Ebola and other viral haemorrhagic fevers. Recently, Dr. Kobinger and his team have received international recognition for the ground-breaking development of an Ebola treatment and vaccine. The Agency's team also has extensive field experience from previous outbreaks around the world including in similar locations. They have developed an extremely agile and adaptable portable lab system that enables it to travel into the most remote and isolated regions and operate under difficult circumstances.

Ebola virus is a highly contagious illness that causes death in 25 to 90 percent of all cases. Early symptoms of the disease are similar to non-life threatening illnesses such as Malaria, which is why early detection is critical to outbreak response.

The National Microbiology Laboratory is Canada's leading public health infectious disease laboratory and the only facility in Canada that is permitted to study and work with live fever viruses such as Ebola and other similarly highly infectious and deadly organisms.

Également offert en français

Image with caption: "A close-up of a section of the mobile laboratory that will be deployed to Democratic Republic of the Congo. The equipment is essential for the rapid identification of the Ebola virus. (CNW Group/PUBLIC HEALTH AGENCY OF CANADA)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120930_C2939_PHOTO_EN_18677.jpg

SOURCE: PUBLIC HEALTH AGENCY OF CANADA

For further information:

Health Canada  
Cailin Rodgers
Office of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
Federal Minister of Health
(613) 957-0200

Media Relations 
Public Health Agency of Canada
(613) 941-8189

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