A new laboratory equipped to handle highly contagious diseases and viruses, which also prevents scientists from contamination, was inaugurated yesterday at the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory.

“Even though it is a small laboratory, it has many functions and took us almost four years to build…and this facility is open not only to animals but to humans as well because we are all concerned with bacteria and viruses. There is nothing like this in the UAE, and we will serve the whole of the country,” said Dr Ali Redha, Administrative Director, Central Veterinary Research Laboratory (CVRL).

He also pointed out that a senior staff had contracted Brucella (also known as Crimean fever) after handling it in the laboratory, and once infected, this can lead to profuse sweating and muscle pain.

It is caused by the ingestion of unsterilised milk or meat from infected animals or close contact with their secretions.

The bio-safety Level-3 Laboratory was specially engineered for scientists to work with bio-hazardous material within biological safety cabinets, which can prevent the contamination of highly contagious diseases, including Sars corona virus, Avian Influenza Virus (bird flu), swine flu virus, and Brucella. Level-4 laboratories are the next safest ones, and are specifically designed for more dangerous viruses such as haemorrhagic fever.

The services of CVRL are already being used by the Dubai Municipality Laboratory to screen for diseases in pets and cattle, and with the new laboratory, a team will be monitoring the movements of influenza strains in the region.

“We are now working on Brucellosis and have taken 50 samples from one infected camel to determine which organ it came from, as it has a variety of different strains,” explained Dr Jorg Kinne, Veterinary Pathologist, who confirmed that the infected camel came from a local farm.

“We regularly screen samples to check for bacteria and, once we discover it, the farm owners are then immediately notified. In such cases where the animal is infected with Brucellosis, it then gets excreted in the milk. It is not fatal for humans but would require up to six months to be treated with antibiotics,” he said.