Saturday, 29 November 2014 00:00

Mobile labs help fight fruit flies

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Mobile laboratory on the move Mobile laboratory on the move

INVESTIGATORS IN the fight against fruit flies hope that two newly fitted mobile field laboratories will help them improve their ability to manage the pests.

 This year two fruit fly investigations, which came from targeted surveillance traps in Whangarei saw the MPI set up two separate temporary field laboratories to deal with the response.

Temporary labs are useful in analysing hundreds of kilos of fruit and identify any insects found at the site, but they can take some time to set up.

"These facilities were cramped and took some days to become fully operational," says Dr Veronica Herrera, MPI's director investigation diagnostic centres and response.

"Modifications were costly and time consuming and had to be removed when the investigation ended.

The new labs, are designed to be picked up and transported to the field by truck and can be 'plugged in' to the field HQ's power and water systems, meaning the laboratory function can be up and running within a day of the response.

Herrera says that during a fruit fly investigation, there is a large amount of potential risk material, which needs examination and it is not appropriate to move this material out of the zone for testing.

"We need this mobile laboratory capability to be moved into the surveillance zone to maintain quarantine," she says.

"The new portable labs meet Fruit Fly containment requirements and have suitable lighting and ventilation flows to ensure that quarantine is maintained

"The two units work in relationship with each other and include adequate space for the entomologists (insect specialists)."

Herrera says the MPI now has better examination and inspection facilities, improved containment, greater flexibility at the site headquarters and cheaper establishment costs.

"Our deployment time is reduced and this means field samples can now begin to be given laboratory examination earlier in the response."

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