The Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory recently demonstrated a new rapid diagnostic testing system for seven important and economically devastating animal diseases, including foot-and-mouth disease. The test was conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratories, National Animal Health Laboratory Network, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
"This testing system could further enhance the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory's ability to assist in detecting devastating animal diseases," said Dr. Barb Powers, Director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and a Professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology. "We are one of two laboratories in the nation with the training to use this tool in its high-capacity format. This would allow us to test for the Western region."
The new diagnostic tool reduces the period required to detect foot-and-mouth disease, or FMD, and six diseases -- all with similar symptoms -- from days to hours, and can simultaneously detect all seven diseases in one sample. The tool, which can provide individual sample results within five hours, is in the process of being validated by the USDA and can process up to 1,000 samples within 10 hours. Animal disease experts estimate that the United States would lose up to $3 million in direct costs for every hour's delay in diagnosing FMD. Typical testing procedures and tools require about 100 hours to process 1,000 samples, and do not allow for simultaneous testing of these diseases, creating a time-consuming testing process.
The rapid test allows officials to detect these diseases early, providing an opportunity to more quickly trace and minimize the spread of these diseases and enhance the nation's ability to respond to natural or terrorist introduction of these diseases into the national animal population. The new testing tool was developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in partnership with the U. S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of California, Davis. DHS funded the efforts to develop the assay. In addition to testing for FMD, the assay simultaneously tests for bovine viral diarrhea, bovine herpes-1, bovine parapox virus complex, bluetongue, swine vesicular disease and vesicular exanthema of swine.
"This new diagnostic assay will significantly enhance the future security of U.S. agriculture by providing improved technology for animal disease diagnostics," said Tammy Beckham, Deputy Director of Science for the DHS at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center.
The new assay can be adapted to help detect other diseases, including diseases that affect humans, and could contribute to any public health system response. The assay also is integrated with USDA's information technology system for tracking animal samples, developed by the department between 2003 and 2006. With this capability, the sample could be rapidly traced back to the herd of origin and the affected animal, minimizing the risk of the disease's spread.