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American Central Reference Lab in Almaty to study plague

04 october 2013, 16:20
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Construction of the Central Reference Lab of Kazakhstan Scientific Center of Quarantine and Zoonotic Diseases in Almaty will be completed in September 2015, Popular Science writes.

The Lab will be launched under the aegis of the U.S. Defense Department. The project is worth over $102 million. The U.S. Department will finance and manage the facility via the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

The laboratory is aimed at researching plague viruses, as well as the viruses of cholera, malignant anthrax and other dangerous infections, their spread and methods of prevention of the diseases, like in the case with the teenager in Kyrgyzstan who died from bubonic plague in August 2013. These researches are currently performed by the Scientific Center of Quarantine and Zoonotic Diseases that has been operating since 1949.

Opening the Lab will allow to replace the outdated laboratories and storage facilities of the Kazakhstan Center with the modern and earthquake-resistant facilities. Besides, the Lab is constructed in line with the international security standards to prevent penetration of the hazardous infections into the environment, as well as their theft by terrorists.

Part of the laboratory will be researching deadly viruses. This department will have the third level of biological security. Another department of the laboratory will study non-deadly pathogens at the area of 8 thousand square meters. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, launching the Central Reference Laboratory will also promote development of the scientific cooperation between Kazakhstan and foreign scientists.

"We're looking forward to this becoming a regional training facility focused both on human and animal infections," said Bakyt Arshabar, Director of Kazakhstan Scientific Center of Quarantine and Zoonotic Diseases. "Cholera is also one of the major problems in our region, mostly with our numerous southern neighbors." He also mentioned the incidents when Kazakh tourists brought Dengue fever from Southeast Asia.

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