Saskatchewan gains accreditation for lab testing increasingly hazardous diseases
If ever there was an outbreak of a serious infectious disease in Saskatchewan, we will now know a little faster with the opening of a level three containment laboratory at the Saskatchewan Disease Control Laboratory (SDCL).
At the introduction of the expansion, Minister of Health Dustin Duncan called the outbreak of disease a serious concern in this modern day.
Until now, the lab – which is located on the University of Regina campus -- was a level two. There are just four levels when it comes to biosafety. The levels refer to the ability of the lab to contain dangerous microbes.
With a level three designation, the facility will be allowed to test increasingly dangerous materials, such as SARS and anthrax.
Until now, specimens were sent to other provinces, meaning a full 24 to 48 hours would sometimes pass before an answer was received. Now the tests can come back in the same day.
SDCL assistant clinical director Dr. Paul Levett says in a pandemic situation, that time can make a difference to the health of hundreds of people. The doctor doesn’t expect epidemic testing to make up their day-to-day work, rather there is a lot of testing to be done for tuberculosis.
The new security clearance hasn’t added jobs to the facility, which was certified by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency this summer.
The minister and reporters were handed a lab coat and given a tour of the facility, which will never again be accessible to the public. It is to be sealed other than to allow the staff of just five to six in.
With files from Karen Brownlee. Edited by CJME's Karen Brownlee.