THE Australian Animal Health Laboratory at Geelong has been renamed the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness.
Operated by the CSIRO, the name change is said to reflect the research facility's ongoing work to bring together human and animal health and deal with highly infectious diseases of animals, including zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19.
CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall said AAHL was created in 1985 to protect Australia from animal diseases like foot and mouth, swine fever, and invasive species.
"But the emergence of Hendra virus in Australia demonstrated that diseases do not differentiate between animals and humans, so neither will we, as we step up our preparedness and response to both in a more holistic way," Dr Marshall said.
"The centre will continue to build on the expertise delivered through AAHL's extensive biosecure laboratories combined with CSIRO's expertise across science disciplines to predict, prevent and manage disease, and turn the breakthroughs of Australia's medical research community into real world solutions for our greatest challenges, like pandemics."
Zoonotic diseases pass from animals to humans - such as COVID-19 and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) - and now account for almost 75 per cent of human infectious diseases.
Infections caused by these types of microbes are frequently fatal, affecting animals and people before the development of vaccines or treatments, such as with the disease COVID-19.
"Our scientists across CSIRO are working around the clock to address the battle against COVID-19 , but it is one we are well prepared for," Dr Marshall said.
The ACDP facility is described as unique to the southern hemisphere, forming a network of high biocontainment facilities worldwide able to enable work with highly dangerous and exotic pathogens.