Canada's National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease designated as a World Organization for Animal Health Reference Laboratory for African swine fever


June 16, 2022 – Ottawa, Ontario

Canada has been recognized as a global leader in scientific and technical expertise to address problems relating to African swine fever (ASF). The World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH, founded as the Office international des Epizooties) officially recognized the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease (NCFAD) in Winnipeg as a WOAH Reference Laboratory to address ASF. There are only six other laboratories in the world with that designation. The CFIA's Dr. Aruna Ambagala was also recognized as Canada's designated expert for ASF.

ASF is a viral disease that does not infect humans, but poses a significant risk to the health of Canadian swine herds, the pork industry, and the Canadian economy.

WOAH Reference Laboratories are internationally recognized centres of expertise on specific animal diseases.

These laboratories play a critical role in the international monitoring and control of animal diseases, in applied research, as well as in providing support for diagnosis, training, and advice to member countries. This designation by the WOAH is a sign of Canada's scientific excellence and demonstrates Canada's increasing ability, capacity, and readiness to detect and respond to an outbreak of ASF as well as support global efforts to manage the disease.

The CFIA is responsible for food safety, and the protection of plant and animal health in Canada. This mandate is supported by the CFIA's network of 13 laboratories across the country. The NCFAD is also designated as a WOAH Reference Laboratory for classical swine fever, highly pathogenic and low pathogenic avian influenza in poultry, and foot-and-mouth disease.

This network of laboratories and the work of their scientists are essential to protect the health and well-being of people, animals, and the economy, both in Canada and internationally.

Quick facts

  • ASF cannot be transmitted to humans and it does not pose a risk to food safety.
  • ASF is a contagious, fatal swine disease that spreads to pigs through both direct and indirect contact with infected pigs, pork, and pork by-products.
  • Canada's pork industry contributes over 100,000 direct and indirect jobs and generates approximately $28 billion to the Canadian economy.
  • In 2020, Canada exported 1.49 million tons of pork to 95 countries at a total value of over $5 billion. Canada is the third-largest pork exporting country in both value and volume and represents 14% of the world's pork trade. Canada exports nearly 70% of its live hog and pork production.
  • NCFAD is also one of the WOAH reference laboratories for classical swine fever. This makes NCFAD the only WOAH reference laboratory in the Americas designated for both classical and African swine fevers.
  • Four CFIA laboratories are recognized by the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for scientific excellence and leadership in 13 areas of expertise related to animal diseases and foodborne parasites.
  • The World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) was founded and previously known as the Office international des Epizooties. The new branding was launched in May 2022.

About the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) touches the lives of all Canadians in so many positive ways. Each day, hard-working CFIA employees – including inspectors, veterinarians and scientists – inspect food for safety risks, protect plants from pests and invasive species, and respond to animal diseases that could threaten Canada’s national herd and human health. Guided by science-based decision-making and modern regulations, the Agency works tirelessly to ensure access to safe and healthy food in Canada, and support access to international markets for our high-quality agricultural products. To learn more, visit

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