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RVC denies public health risk

Research at the RVC - image courtesy of the RVC
Research at the RVC

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) says its new infectious diseases unit will not be working with the highly-contagious avian flu or foot-and-mouth disease.

The assurance came following a request from this site for clarification about plans for the new Centre for the Control of Veterinary Infectious Diseases and Zoonoses (CCVIDZ) following concerns, expressed in this siteís forum.

The RVC says the CCVIDZ will be "a centre for research into the nature and spread of infectious diseases, with special emphasis on zoonoses (diseases which can be transmitted to humans from animals)."

A spokesperson for the RVC said such research "is essential for ensuring that humans and animals are protected from infectious diseases."

A forum member had questioned whether the public would be at risk due to the new development.

"The plans show special containment laboratories with air extraction chimneys poking up less than a mile away from Brookmans Park, which is downwind and ...itís being built beside the stream which goes down to the water station at Waterend," the concerned forum correspondent wrote.

However, the RVC says there is nothing to fear.

"The RVC is fully confident that the design of the laboratories, and the implementation of strict operating procedures, will ensure that there is no risk to the Royal Veterinary Collegeís staff, the surrounding community or the environment.

"The RVC has a good track record of controlling infectious diseases and in its long history of research at Hawkshead there has never been an occurrence of a disease spreading from the site. "

According to the RVC, the laboratories will be built in accordance with all health, safety and environment standards.

The spokesperson said consultant engineers have been working to ensure that protection of the environment has been taken into account in designing the centre.

"The consultant engineers have worked with the college on a range of other schemes in the past with great success and are experienced in the design of laboratories that require containment of diseases.

"To ensure that these standards are being adhered to, the RVC is having the design of the building independently audited (at extra cost) to ensure that the building meets all of the latest regulations. "

The RVC statement continues by saying that it would ensure the prevention of the spread of infectious animal diseases.

"Since the highest possible operating standards are implemented to ensure that staff are fully protected, the safety of the wider community is also ensured.

"It should be emphasized, however, that staff at the CCVIDZ will not be working with highly contagious pathogens such as foot-and-mouth or avian influenza."

You can discuss this issue in this siteís forum.

29 August 2007

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