The National Veterinary Laboratory

The National Veterinary Laboratory

The National Veterinary Laboratory opened its doors in the late 50's to support the Brucella eradication programme by conducting surveillance on milking herds and milk.  At the time, Brucellosis was also referred to as Malta fever.  Prevalence was high in Malta due to lack of controls together with high consumption of unpasteurised goat milk.   

Established according to the requirements of part II of CAP 437 of the Veterinary Services Act, the laboratory forms part of the Parliamentary Secretariat for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights.  The laboratory falls under the remit of the Animal Health and Welfare Department (AHWD) within the Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights.

Ever since, the laboratory continued to widen its testing capabilities and keeps abreast with current issues and emerging animal and zoonotic diseases through collaboration with various European, National and EU Reference laboratories and any other agency as deemed necessary. The laboratory achieved its accreditation status in 2015.

Vision and Strategic Direction

To be primarily a Public National Veterinary Laboratory enjoying National Reference Laboratory status, providing laboratory service and support to the Veterinary Regulation in accordance to obligations and requirements in National and EU Legislation.

Quality Policy Statement

The NVL is committed to provide impartial, confidential, timely and accurate testing services to its customers in accordance with stated methods and customer requirements and in compliance with the requirements established by ISO/IEC 17025 and the National Accreditation Board​ – Malta (NAB-Malta) with respect to test methods that are included within the Accreditation Scope.  This is achieved through NVL’s managerial and technical personnel who continuously strive to meet or exceed the stated or implied expectations of their customers through the implementation of the relevant quality policies and procedures.  The management is committed to good professional practice and to continually improving the effectiveness of the management system.

Roles of the National Veterinary Laboratory

The laboratory works to safeguard both animal and public health by providing laboratory support to various units within the Veterinary Regulation Directorate.  Its major role is the control of food safety in primary production of food of animal origin.  Samples reaching the laboratory form part of national surveillance plans, imports from border inspection posts, surveys or suspects.  The laboratory conducts testing activities to target different surveillance programmes:

  • Animal Disease Surveillance such as Enzootic Bovine Leucosis, Foot and Mouth, Avian Influenza and Bluetongue
  • Food Health Surveillance such as Trichinella and Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE).
  • Zoonotic Disease Surveillance such as Brucella and Salmonella
  • Veterinary Drug Residue Surveillance such as antimicrobials, growth promoters and contaminants in foods of animal origin.
  • Antibiotic Resistance

The laboratory also fulfills the role of National Reference Laboratory for various test areas.

ISO 17025 accreditation

In 2015, the National Veterinary Laboratory achieved accreditation according to ISO 17025.  Being ISO 17025 accredited, the National Veterinary Laboratory undergoes annual assessments to ensure that the lab adhers to ISO requirements.  All personnel working at the laboratory are fully trained to be technically competent in the relevant test areas. 

Sections within the National Veterinary Laboratory

A variety of tests are performed at the National Veterinary Laboratory.  Testing activities fall within three main sections:

An image of an open centrifuge with red capped centrifuge tubes.  Chemistry​

An image of three petri dishes, one bearing a blue medium, another bearing a reddish medium and another bearing a red –orange medium.   All petri dishes show bacterial growth.Microbiology​ 

An image showing a collage of different farm animals.  On the top left corner of the image there are cows eating straw, the top right corner shows two piglets on straw, the bottom left corner of the image shows a herd of sheep whilst the bottom right corner shows three chickens in a barn.Animal Disease Su​rveillance & Parasitology