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H1N1 swine flu virus testing lab at Haffkine Institute, Mumbai to be upgraded to bio-safety level 3

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009, 17:36 This news item was posted in health category and has 0 Comments so far.

Mumbai, India’s  H1N1 swine flu testing centre Haffkine Institute at Parel will soon have an upgraded a bio-safety level (BSL) 3 laboratory.


Haffkine Institute’s upgradation to a  bio-safety level (BSL) 3 laboratory will enable it to handle research and testing of dangerous pathogens like influenza virus that can spread even through air.

Currently, swine flu causing H1N1 influenza flu virus is being tested in Haffkine Institute’s  bio-safety level (BSL) 2 laboratory.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) – the civic administration – now sends H1N1 samples to Haffkine daily testing.

H1N1 testing should ideally be done in a BSL3 lab because of the highly virulent nature of the pandemic virus.

The BSL3 level laboratory is used to test animal pathogens, hemorrhagic fever viruses, philo viruses, Bacillus anthracis, SARS coronavirus, yellow fever virus, equine encephalitis virus and arbovirus.

BSL3 level lab will restrict recirculation of air as any influx of air can lead to contamination and many of these viruses can spread through air.

Air, water and other materials will be entered into BSL3 level labs in a controlled environment  to avoid contamination.

The used up air or water from BSL3 lab will also be decontaminated to ensure it does not pollute the outside environment.

The laboratory staff entering into BSL3 lab will have to take an air and water shower before they change into their lab clothes and other lab gears-double gloves, body suit, N95 masks and eye gear.

Clothes and other lab materials used by the staff will also be disposed in a controlled environment.

Researchers will be putting their hands inside a gloved bio-safety cabinet while working.

In August, he Mumbai municipal corporation decided to open six more swine flu screening centres in the city.

The new swine flu testing centers were to tackle the increasing number of patients visiting the hospitals for getting themselves tested for swine flu.

Now Mumbai has a total number of 12 centers to test H1N1 virus.

Of the six new H1N1 testing centres opened, three were in western and three in eastern suburbs. The hospitals are — Cooper hospital in Vile Parle, V N Desai in Santacruz, S K Patil in Malad, Bhabha hospital in Kurla, Kannamwar Nagar in Vikhroli and Saptapadi in Govandi.

Currently, India has accredited laboratories at major cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore to detect H1N1 infection. There are private swine flu testing labs in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore apart from several other cities.

Recently, the government has also allowed some hospitals and laboratories in the private sector as well to conduct detection test for the H1N1 infection, considering the rising number of cases in these cities.

Religare, Dr Lal’s pathology, Auroprobe and Dang’s are the four new laboratories in the private sector selected by the government to conduct RNA testing in New Delhi for the swine flu causing H1N1 influenza A virus.

Super Religare Laboratories (SRL), India’s largest network of diagnostic labs, has received an approval from the Government of Maharashtra to carry out testing for H1N1 – swine flu all over Maharashtra in September. Apollo Pharmacy has received license from the Drug Controller General of India for the retail sale of oseltamivir, a drug for the treatment of H1N1 Influenza.

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