CDC opens Alasakan lab

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently opened a major laboratory in Alaska that has a unit capable of testing for agents such as anthrax and tularemia.

The New Arctic Investigations Program Laboratory will be important in protecting the United States against the threat of bioterrorism, but will also protect people from the spread of infections such as Influenza, Pneumonia, Hepatitis B, Strep and RSV, KTUU-TV reports.

The $2.3 million facility was officially opened on January 27 with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a traditional native blessing.

The new laboratory is located on the Alaskan Native Medical Center Campus and includes the renovation of old labs and the creation of a new annex, KTUU-TV reports. The CDC believes that the new space is needed because the lab is part of a national and international network of facilities that need the capability to test for bioterror threats.

The Arctic Investigations Program will also work with arctic nations on controlling the diseases they share in common.

Rural Alaskans and Alaskan Natives will find the center of particular importance since part of its focus will be on infections like Heliobactor pylori, which is common in areas with poor sanitation.

H. pylori is thought to be a common cause of stomach cancer. Alaskan Natives have rates if stomach cancer that are three times higher than the rest of the American population, according to KTUU-TV. The program will also track treptococcus pneumonia, which has infection rates among Alaskan native children that are among the highest in the world.