Virology lab opens in Winnipeg

A new research laboratory opened Friday in Winnipeg, one with security tighter than any prison. It's called a Level 4 virology containment facility.

Scientists at the new complex will study some of the world's deadliest health threats, such as the ebola virus and hemorrhagic fever.

The lab, to be named the Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health, has been a decade in the works and cost Health Canada $172 million. The lab provides the highest level of safety available and there are only about 15 labs like it in the world.

"The new facility will allow for research to be performed on the most dangerous and contagious disease-causing agents, including level 3 and 4 pathogens, and for Canada to have the capacity to respond quickly to a localized or national disease outbreak," says Health Minister Allan Rock.

The lab occupies only one per cent of the space at the new facility. Most of the building is used to work with less dangerous agents such as tuberculosis.

The new lab has many people worried about safety. In the United States, there have been more than 70 Level 4 virus infections. Nine scientists have died.

But the lab says it has state-of-the-art equipment, designed to protect staff and the public against contact with any of the material stored there.

The world's deadliest bugs are expected to start arriving by the end of the month.