Media Notice - Public Health Agency of Canada

    OTTAWA, April 20 /CNW Telbec/ - The Public Health Agency of Canada is
advising the community today of an incident that has taken place at the
Agency's National Microbiology Lab (NML), located at the Canadian Science
Centre for Human and Animal Health. We are advising media of this incident in
the interests of openness and transparency and we want to assure Winnipeg
residents that this incident at no time posed a risk to the public.
    We also wish to ensure the public that every necessary protocol was
followed quickly and correctly in this situation. Personnel of the NML
responded in a timely and appropriate manner and the situation has been
resolved. An investigation into the cause of this incident will be undertaken
to prevent future occurrence.
    A scientist at the NML undertook research with what was by all
indications sterile material derived from anthrax. A concern later arose that
the material may have contained a live organism. Action was taken to address
those concerns and tests indicate that the material does not contain any live
anthrax organisms. Additional tests were conducted and have ruled out any
other organism that may be a concern.
    All possible precautions have been taken to protect the health of NML
personnel, including putting the 30 staff that may have been in the vicinity
of the material on antibiotics. We also closed the rooms used for the research
until the testing process was completed.
    While lab-acquired infections are a concern for all laboratories, this
world-class facility has an excellent safety record with extensive safety
protocols in place and well-trained personnel.
    There is no risk to the community, but we understand that people may be
concerned. We have been in contact with our Community Liaison Committee
regarding this issue and we will continue to keep them apprised of any

    The NML is Canada's leading public health infectious disease laboratory.
It offers the world's highest level of containment and meets or exceeds all
national and international guidelines for safety. Scientists at the lab
conduct research on bacteria and viruses to advance the science that will help
protect the public in Canada and internationally.

For further information:

For further information: Elaine Krawchenko, Public Health Agency of
Canada, (204) 789-5046

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