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CFIA reference laboratories and collaborating centres

An aerial view of the Lethbridge laboratory, part of the National Centre for Animal Disease.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is one of Canada's largest science-based agencies and a trusted, internationally recognized leader in scientific expertise and leadership.

Four CFIA laboratories are recognized by the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH, founded as Office International des Épizooties (OIE)), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for scientific excellence and leadership in 13 areas of expertise related to animal diseases and foodborne parasites.

These laboratories and the work of their scientists are essential to protect the health and well-being of people, animals, and the economy, both in Canada and internationally. This work includes the detection of animal diseases and collaborative research to enhance efforts to monitor, control, and eradicate these diseases. Designation as a reference laboratory or a collaborating centre is a sign of scientific excellence and integrity.

The CFIA's reference laboratories and collaborating centres are categorized as the following:

WOAH Reference Laboratories

A scientist in a biohazard suit looks into a microscope in a laboratory at the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease

WOAH Reference Laboratories are internationally recognized centres of expertise on specific animal diseases. When there is a suspected case of a disease in a region, a sample is sent to the appropriate WOAH Reference Laboratory for confirmation through diagnostic laboratory tests. The results are then shared with the relevant authorities responsible for managing and controlling these diseases. These laboratories play a critical role in the international monitoring and control of animal diseases, as well as provide support for diagnosis, training, and advice to member countries.

The CFIA's WOAH Reference Laboratories are:

WOAH Collaborating Centres

WOAH Collaborating Centres are centres of animal health research and expertise that create standards and share knowledge around the management of a particular issue (for example, animal welfare, veterinary training, etc.). The expertise of each collaborating centre is shared with all WOAH member countries.

The Centre for Foodborne and Animal Parasitology at the CFIA Saskatoon Laboratory is an WOAH Collaborating Centre with expertise in foodborne zoonotic parasites.

WHO Collaborating Centres

WHO Collaborating Centres are national institutions (often research institutes or universities) that carry out activities to support WHO programs nationally, regionally, and internationally. WHO Collaborating Centres develop and share tools and information and participate in collaborative research within their area of expertise. This strengthens both Canada's health development and the scientific validity of the global health network.

The CFIA Ottawa (Fallowfield) Laboratory is a WHO Collaborating Centre with expertise in the control and epidemiology of rabies in carnivores.

FAO Reference Centres

FAO Reference Centres provide independent technical and scientific advice, diagnostic services, training, and research and developmental studies to member countries to prevent and control major poultry, livestock, and wildlife diseases.

The CFIA Winnipeg Laboratory, or NCFAD, is an FAO reference centre with expertise in foot-and-mouth disease and other vesicular diseases for Central and South America.

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