DA, US agency partner to improve animal disease lab
(The Philippine Star) - December 8, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture has partnered with the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency (US DTRA) to strengthen animal disease diagnostic laboratories in the country.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar recently issued an order aimed at enhancing biosafety and biosecurity capabilities at the DA Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories (BSS project) in a bid to protect the Philippines from major animal diseases.

The move is also intended to boost the local livestock and poultry industries.

“Through the issued order, we are supplementing provisions in the forms of modifications and additional components under the expanded coverage of the BSS project,” Dar said.

One of the modifications and additional components under the expanded BSS project includes the construction of and equipment provision for Anthrax laboratory in Tuguegarao City.

Anthrax, with its infectious characteristics that can cause severe illness in both animals and humans, can be transmitted by contact with the bacteria’s spores in an infected animal.

In the Philippines, anthrax was found to be endemic in the Cagayan Valley Region.

To enhance the diagnostic capability of the regional animal disease diagnostic laboratory (RADDL), an anthrax reference laboratory is being proposed to be constructed in Tuguegarao City. The lab serves as the center for isolation of Bacillus anthracis and research on anthrax.

“The extended training, exercises, and workshops will complement the DA’s rationalization efforts to improve and standardize biosafety and biosecurity practices and procedures in DA’s RADDLs,” Dar said.

Training programs include epidemiology and field biosecurity training, polymerase chain reaction hands-on training, anthrax testing algorithm and safe practices, among others.

Another component of the project is the development of a laboratory information management system that will facilitate the management of data.

To establish a unified reference for the future expansion of the DA regional integrated laboratory divisions and address the requirements of the Department of Budget and Management in laboratory expansions, the project will develop an integrated laboratory engineering masterplan.

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