http://www.milenio.com/node/438621

Spanish to English translation

Mexico strengthens fight against pandemics and bioterrorism

We can confirm in at least two days the presence of SARS, flu, or new strains. It has the backing of the United States and will process up to 30 samples daily.

Fri, 07/05/2010 - 09:52

Fifty scientists, well equipped, will work on the detection of infectious agents. Image: Oswaldo Ram?rez After seven years of programming, Mexico has the first Laboratory Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3), supported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) United States, which will detect, in less 48 hours, new pandemic viruses and bioterrorism aimed at places like the U.S. embassy.

Alpuche Celia, director of the National Institute of Epidemiological Diagnosis and Reference (INDRE), explained that U.S. diplomatic representation in Mexico usually sent for analysis envelopes that come with "strange powders" and they fear that it may be Anthrax.

"They still have dust coming envelopes are rare and anguish that go through the U.S. Embassy, we have come inches, three or four a year," he said during a tour of the new facilities of small BSL3 laboratory, which was a cost of 12 million pesos, but the maintenance will be over 500 million.

Pending completion of construction of 35 thousand meters of surface in new INDRE Silversmiths (around 2011 and have the ability to process more than 3000 samples), this new, small laboratory is key to national security, even though in practice can only process 30 samples per day, ranging from common viruses such as rubella, measles and dengue, to the detection of new infectious strains.

"It's like a national security shield for more health information, timely and quality, and prevent the spread of diseases of suspected, consequential or bioterrorism, such as Anthrax, tularemia, or rabbit fever, Francisella tularensis, which is highly virulent , including the H5N1 avian influenza and highly resistant crops microbasterias or hemorrhagic fevers, "he said.

INDRE director said Friday he will meet with authorities Research Center for National Security (Cisen) to report on the draft protection against a possible bioterrorist attack and, in parallel, we will work to shield the border between Mexico and the United States and Guatemala .

The BSL3 laboratory, which will start operating in three weeks and has 500 surface 7000, a team of 50 scientists prepared and well equipped, have the opportunity to sequence all types of viruses, to detect whether these are new agents that can trigger a pandemic in the country and even for preparing the antigens necessary.

"We will be able to grow any kind of virus and be more self-sufficient to produce antigens," in addition "we have internationally standardized techniques. Any diagnosis faster and will allow us to defend ourselves against any attack (bioterrorism), before we had to send samples abroad. Another situation is that this laboratory will have international credibility, we belong to the CDC network, "he said Alpuche.

The facilities are sealed in such a way that prevents leaks out viruses that might compromise or society. "The idea is to sequence the entire virus and detect whether it is a new agent that could trigger a pandemic in the country."

The new laboratory will operate in conjunction with the existing ones in Veracruz and Sonora, which have not yet endorsed by the CDC.

On cases of H1N1 virus, the official mentioned that it is minimal and that of ten samples are only two confirmatory.

- Keys

Influenza

? So far, Mexico has recorded 72 000 502 confirmed cases of influenza A/H1N1, and according to the Ministry of Health has been 8,009 deaths.

? The economic impact of the pandemic, since the alert was declared on April 23, 2009, exceeded 4 percent of GDP, following the closure of borders by various countries.

? Given the possibility of release WHO pandemic alert, the INER are warned that cases of H1N1, and most of them are from people without risk factors, ie healthy.
Mexico ? Blanca Valadez