Preventing Disease

Detection and Isolation of Viruses

A major focus of the Wildlife Disease Laboratories at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research is to identify and characterize disease pathogens so that we can better understand how and why diseases are transmitted between animals. 

Recently, we have expanded our ability to do this with the establishment of the first biosecure laboratory (BL3) in a zoo. 

The goal of the BL3 is to help us to understand more about disease, disease spread, and ultimately, disease control. 

With this lab and the new capabilities it offers, we aim to develop the ability to isolate viruses on site and identify their strain type, and in doing so strengthen our position as a global leader in zoological medicine.

In addition to post-mortem cases, insects will be examined to check for the presence of topical viruses such as West Nile Virus or for the presence of blood parasites such as those causing avian malaria. These proactive studies will help to keep clinicians and managers informed of current risks to our animal collections.