Pathogen Audit at Canadian Labs Triggers Increased Bio-Security Measures

Canadian scientist steals specimens, caught by U.S. Customs agent at the border

Laboratories are invariably out of the public eye—until there is a problem. In Canada, The Canadian Press reported earlier this year that audits had uncovered serious flaws in the tracking and accountability of dangerous pathogen specimens at federal laboratories. In response, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) called for increased security measures governing bio-safety at government laboratories.

These problems were identified at the nation’s National Microbiology Laboratory, located in Winnipeg. Earlier in the year, this lab played the lead role in testing swine flu (Novel A/H1N1) samples and mapped the progression of this flu strain from Mexico to Canada. Other labs visited and found lacking in full protection of pathogen specimens included the Laboratory for Foodborne Zoonoses in Guelph, Ontario, and federal satellite labs in Alberta and Quebec.