Introduction to the Animal Health Centre
The Animal Health Centre is the largest section of the Animal
Health Branch and is responsible for the rapid and accurate
detection and diagnosis of animal diseases and other factors
contributing to ill health or suboptimal production performance in
livestock and companion animals in British Columbia. Submissions are
made to the laboratory by veterinarians, livestock producers, the
general public, and other government agencies; laboratory findings
are used to monitor the status of animal health in British Columbia.
Staff veterinarians and laboratory scientists investigate and
identify major livestock and companion animal diseases that could
have potentially devastating effects on the food supply or pose a
threat to public health. Professional staff consult with producers,
research scientists, and private veterinarians on a variety of
animal and public health related issues.
In 1997, following extensive documentation and an on-site
evaluation visit, the Animal Health Centre became only the second
laboratory in Canada to be accredited as a full-service veterinary
diagnostic laboratory by the American Association of Veterinary
Laboratory Diagnosticians. In 2003, the AHC went through the
accreditation process for the second time and maintained this
accreditation distinction. Accreditation by the AAVLD assures our
clientele of our commitment to providing a quality service and to
provide confidence that all tests conducted within the laboratory
meet very high quality assurance standards. We look forward to our
third on-site review by the AAVLD in late 2008.
Disease diagnosis and monitoring of animal health are essential
for British Columbia's agri-food industry. Ongoing surveillance and
reporting of listed diseases to appropriate federal or provincial
agencies is a crucial role of the Animal Health Centre and has
important implications for product export certification. In
addition, the diagnosis of diseases that may be transmitted from
animals to people is important to health authorities. Up to 70% of
all the diseases affecting people come from animals and an even
larger percentage of newly-emerging diseases originated with
animals. There are ongoing efforts to monitor the potential impact
of global climate change and emergence of exotic diseases or
resurgence of past health issues in production animals and wildlife
species. Although primarily concerned with food-producing animals,
the AHC also provides diagnostic services for companion animals,
captive and free-ranging wildlife, zoo animals, fish, and
fur-bearers. In recent years, testing has been expanded to meet the
need for advanced diagnostics relating to disease of bees and to
also support research into the declining populations of species at
risk, especially frogs, in British Columbia.
The AHC was housed on the campus of the University of British
Columbia until 1965 when it was moved to a new facility, the John
Bankier Building, approximately 80 kilometres east in Abbotsford in
the central Fraser Valley. Over the following thirty years, the
changes in the types of testing being performed and the complexity
of various new technologies outgrew the capacity of this building.
Recognizing the advantages of consolidating all Ministry of
Agriculture offices in the Fraser Valley, the new
Abbotsford Agriculture Centre (AAC) was built and completed to serve
these purposes. The AHC began accepting submissions at the new site
in late July 1995 and the Abbotsford Agriculture Centre was
officially opened in September 1995.
The Animal Health Centre
occupies approximately 3,950 sq metres of the 7,300 sq metre
Abbotsford Agriculture Centre.
The new Abbotsford Agriculture Centre consolidates the offices of
the Investment and Innovation Branch; Food Safety and Plant Health
Branch; Sustainable Agriculture Management Branch; Regional
Operations (Abbotsford) Branch; and the Animal Health Branch. A new
Containment Level 3 laboratory addition to the Animal Health Centre
was announced by the Minister of Agriculture in November
2006 and construction began in December of that year. The CL3
laboratory provides an additional 365 sq metres of laboratory space
(with another 730 sq metres of space required for laboratory support
such as HVAC, disinfection etc). This new high-level containment
laboratory will improve safety for laboratory workers; prevent the
escape of potentially significant disease agents to the surrounding
community; enhance our ability to more rapidly respond to animal
disease events; and increase our preparedness for dealing with
newly-emerging diseases that could affect both animal and human
Construction is expected to be complete in mid-August 2008.
Following extensive testing by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency
and approval by Health Canada, it is anticipated that the new CL3
laboratory will be fully functional by December 2008.
Abbotsford is a community of approximately 130,000 located in the
central Fraser Valley of British Columbia, eighty kilometres east of
Vancouver. It is a prime agricultural area for livestock, berry, and
vegetable crops. Dairy cattle, commercial poultry, and swine are the
major livestock commodities although there are also large numbers of
horses, and several smaller sheep and goat holdings.
The AAC is immediately adjacent to the north side of Highway #1
(the Trans Canada highway) midway between the Mission/Sumas exit to
the west and Whatcom Road exit to the east.
The AHC is located at 1767 Angus Campbell Road (a short cul de
sac off Delair Road). Please call ahead should you require more
We are open Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 4:30pm.