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National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg to get $5M expansion

John Woods / Canadian Press / File

The federal government is expanding the capacity of Canada’s level-4 containment labs in Winnipeg, which are used to research some of the world’s most dangerous human and animal diseases.

Health Minister Jane Philpott announced the $5-million lab expansion today in Winnipeg, saying the enhancements are critical for strengthening Canada’s ability to respond to both global and domestic public health threats.

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The increased lab space will help improve testing and researching of high-risk infectious diseases like Ebola, Middle East respiratory syndrome and avian influenza.

Level-4 labs provide the highest degree of biocontainment and are equipped to safely diagnose, research and develop treatments and vaccines for high-risk pathogens.

Scientists at the National Microbiology Laboratory have improved diagnosis and developed an experimental vaccine for Ebola, while also working on treatments for other level-4 diseases like Lassa fever and the Marburg virus.

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Researchers at the lab are also studying Nipah virus — a potentially fatal disease that can affect both pigs and humans.

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