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Wildlife Health, Genetic and Forensic Laboratory Annual Certification

On 26th June 2020 Conservation Medicine coordinated the annual inspection of Sabah Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Health, Genetic and Forensic Laboratory. The laboratory was certified by a Registered Biosafety Professional for the seventh year in a row as a Biosafety Level 2 biocontainment laboratory in accordance with internationally recognised standards.

Myanmar Laboratory Biosafety Quick Reference Manual

On 28th July 2020 Conservation Medicine and MORU submitted the final version of the Myanmar Laboratory Biosafety Quick Reference Manual to the WHO. This manual provides guidelines on biosafety practices and COVID-19 and will help facilitate safe working practices and control biological risks.

Biosafety training for field sampling of small mammals and ectoparasites

From September 21st – 25th 2020 Conservation Medicine ran the first week of a two-week residential training program designed for animal health professionals on field sampling of small mammals and ectoparasites, funded by the DTRA Biological Threat Reduction Program. The 16 participants included lecturers, research assistants, assistant wildlife officers, rangers, biosafety officers, post-doctoral fellows and post-graduate students from both academic institutions and government. The objective of this training was to build capacity for those involved with the bio-surveillance of vector-borne select agent pathogens and other priority diseases and for them to better understand the distribution of these pathogens, as well as to train researchers on how to collect samples safely and securely in the field with a focus on biosafety and biosecurity. The second week will be held later this year.

Molecular Zoonosis Laboratory Annual Certification

On the 30th September 2020 the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia Molecular Zoonosis Laboratory at the National Wildlife Forensic Laboratory was certified by a Registered Biosafety Professional for the fourth year in a row as a Biosafety Level 2 biocontainment laboratory in accordance with internationally recognized standards. This annual certification is coordinated by Conservation Medicine.

Back in the field after Malaysia’s first COVID-19 lockdown

At the end of September 2020 we got back in to the field and continued field work for the Biosurveillance of Henipaviruses and Filoviruses and started field work for EID-SEARCH, sampling 248 bats from 12 different species at cave sites in Gua Musang. Lab work for both projects is ongoing.

Paper published showing no evidence of Coronaviruses in Sunda pangolins in Malaysia

On November 23rd 2020 the paper “No Evidence of Coronaviruses or Other Potentially Zoonotic Viruses in Sunda pangolins (Manis javanica) Entering the Wildlife Trade via Malaysia” was published. This collaborative effort with our partners from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Sabah Wildlife Department and Universiti Malaysia Sabah suggests that wild pangolins pose no threat to human health and highlights the importance of carefully ending the trade of wildlife and improving biosecurity at wet markets to avoid having wild animals co-mingling with farmed animals and humans.

Congratulations to our Field Coordinator on completing his Masters

On December 14th 2020 our Field Coordinator Jimmy Lee completed his Master of Science in Medical Science at Universiti Malaysia Sabah researching zoonotic virus surveillance and genetic diversity mapping of confiscated and rescued Sunda pangolins.

You can read Jimmy’s blog about his studies here >

Completion of landslide rectification work at Wildlife Health, Genetic and Forensic Laboratory

On December 17th 2020 the landslide rectification work funded by DTRA at the Wildlife Health, Genetic and Forensic Laboratory was completed. In addition to reinforcing the hill with 189 soil nails and meshing, extending and improving the drainage, the laboratory is also now properly fenced in, and security cameras and grills have been installed. This further strengthens biosecurity and provides us with the security features we need to complete the ISO17025 accreditation and will allow Sabah Wildlife Department to use the laboratory to conduct forensic investigations.