As a result of the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)-funded U.S.-Armenia Cooperative Biological Engagement Program, the Armenian Ministry of Health can now analyze and confirm potential anthrax outbreaks in Armenia in a matter of hours.
As part of the program, one of Black & Veatch’s tasks was to purchase and install infectious disease diagnostic equipment in three Ministry of Health laboratories. The equipment includes polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and enzyme-linked immune sorbent assay (ELISA) machines and biosafety cabinets. In addition, Black & Veatch provided operating manuals translated into Armenian, and Black & Veatch diagnostic specialists trained laboratory staff in operating the equipment.
In late 2012, the machines were installed in the Nork Infectious Clinical Hospital (NICH) in Yerevan. Coincidentally, just a few weeks later, the Armenian government began receiving reports of patients with symptoms resembling anthrax from Gegharkunik province in eastern Armenia. Anthrax is a bacterial infection that affects hoofed animals, and people can contract the disease from their animals. In addition, anthrax has been used for bioterrorism.