The federal government is sending a second mobile laboratory to West Africa and says it is considering teaming up with provincial scientists or even British experts to help respond to the Ebola crisis.
Gregory Taylor, Canada's chief public health officer, said talks to mobilize additional resources – and possibly more mobile labs – are in the early stages and may include federal scientists from departments outside Health Canada along with provincial experts.
As well, he said officials from Britain have approached the Canadian government about working together.
"We may end up having some jointly staffed labs, which would be great.
"But that's still in the planning process and we're just thinking that through," Dr. Taylor said in an interview.
"We'll be exploring everything we can to assist."
The United Nations is setting up an emergency health mission that will co-ordinate the logistics of responding to the crisis, a move Dr. Taylor said Canada welcomes.
Initially, the second Canadian mobile lab team, which consists of two scientists and portable equipment that can detect small amounts of Ebola, will conduct environmental testing at the Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) clinic in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, to help determine if improperly cleaned surfaces are infecting health-care workers.
After that work is complete, the team will likely move to another location to do diagnostic work, testing samples from suspected Ebola patients.
The first Canadian mobile lab, which is staffed by a rotating team of scientists who work between two and six weeks in the field, has been diagnosing patients since late June and can process up to 30 samples a day.
It costs about $120,000 to send each team to West Africa, which includes travel, overtime and shipping costs, the government said.