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NCDI Releases Public Discussion Documents

Upper Hutt residents and the country's farmers are being given the opportunity to comment on proposals by the National Centre for Disease Investigation to import new organisms into its new containment laboratory at Wallaceville.

The NCDI is preparing to apply to the Environmental Risk Management Authority to import 24 new species of micro-organisms.

The basis for this is to ensure that New Zealand has the capability for the rapid diagnosis of exotic diseases caused by the organisms. Currently if there is a suspected outbreak of any of these diseases, samples have to be sent overseas and this can cause critical delays in diagnosis.

Early detection of exotic disease outbreaks minimises the impact through reduced disease spread and increases the chances of speedy eradication.

NCDI general manager, Hugh Davies says all possible means of escape from the laboratory have been identified and measures are in place to prevent such an incident occurring.

"The laboratory meets international best practice for dealing with exotic animal diseases and the building itself is designed for maximum earthquake resistance. There is virtually no chance of escape of an organism."

"And if, in the highly unlikely event that there was an escape, once again, because of the nature of the organisms there would virtually no chance of any of them getting into the animal or human population."

The NCDI has just released a document for public discussion detailing the background to the application and the organisms it is applying to ERMA to import.

Dr Davies says he welcomes any comments or queries from interested groups or individuals.

"While it is our neighbours in Upper Hutt as well as livestock farmers who will understandably be most concerned to know that the benefits outweigh any risk, we acknowledge that the concerned members of the general public have a right to make comments and so we welcome those as well."

Ends

For more information contact Dr Hugh Davies 04-526-5600


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