Friday, May 12, 2006

Costa Rican government opens animal health lab in Guanacaste

The cattle of Guanacaste, Costa Rica now has its own lab for tests and diagnostics. (Photo: Getty Images)By Uri Ridelman

During the fist week of May the Government of Costa Rica innaugurated in Guanacaste a new lab to diagnose sick animals.

The Animal Health Regional Lab, which will run tests on cattle and other animals like porks and chickens, will be used to detect several illnesses that could affect them in Costa Rica. The facility is located in the city of Liberia, in the headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cattle (MAG).

Carolina Elizondo Ovares, General Services Chief for the MAG's Department of Veterinarian Diagnostic, said that although the lab has already been innaugurated it won't start to run actual tests on animals for about eight weeks because the technicians have to calibrate and test the equipment they will use.

The lab, with an equipment valued at about $4000, will be open to the public Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., but in case any illnesses are detected in the region's cattle the lab will extend its working schedule.

The cattle and animal breeders of the province of Guanancaste were left without a regional lab 12 years ago when the one in Nicoya shut down its operations. The new one will help them save time and reduce costs as they won't have to travel far and wait for results that come from outside their province.

Alexis Sandi Munoz, Director of Animal Health, said that current tests for the animals of Guanacaste take place in a MAG lab at Barreal de Heredia, which is almost 130 miles away.

Sandi said that if a contagiuos disease infects the Costa Rica cattle the international markets would ban Costa Rican products and cause huge economic losses.

"A diagnostic in time is essential to contain a disease and avoid a market shut down," Sandi said.

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