This funding from the National Animal Health Laboratory Network will enable the OVDL to expand its emergency response capabilities.
The Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (OVDL) at Oregon State University (OSU) has received three grants from the National Animal Health Laboratory Network to further develop its role in fighting major disease outbreaks in the Pacific Northwest.
The main purpose of the laboratory, according to a university publication, is to test and diagnose animal diseases (i.e., infectious diseases in farm animals). When the COVID-19 pandemic first broke out, the OVDL also helped with human test samples during a time when testing capacity in Oregon was extremely limited.
“We really showed that animal testing and human testing are one and the same, and our skills in large-scale animal testing translate into human testing,” said Justin Sanders, assistant professor at OSU’s Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine and a key investigator on TRACE – OSU’s project that is monitoring the spread of COVID-19 across the state. “It is crucial to maintain these skills for the future and to build on them.”
Each of the three grants – totaling $ 675,155 – address a specific aspect of the lab’s emergency work. The first will fund a series of practice exercises created to strengthen inter-agency coordination and identify gaps in the OVDL’s existing preparation for agency exams.
In addition, the project offers table-top exercises that simulate an outbreak, followed by exercises on the floor, during which fictitious samples are physically processed in the laboratory, according to the press release.
“The on-site boating exercises are not only valuable for troubleshooting, but also for training the OVDL staff and the departments that work closely with the OVDL,” says Christiane Löhr, professor at the University of Veterinary Medicine and diagnostic pathologist.
The second grant will help the OVDL integrate the new equipment it has received for SARS-CoV-2 tests into current emergency test workflows, thereby expanding its animal disease testing and implementing rapid sequencing of pathogens in the laboratory.
In addition, the third grant will efficiently streamline data transfer between the OVDL and the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, while improving communication around disease monitoring and emergency response.
Additionally, the lab’s head of quality assurance, Donna Mulrooney, emphasized that the faster diagnostic labs can respond to an emerging disease, the better the chances of managing and reducing its impact on humans, animals and the environment alike. She recently announced that laboratories across the country are on the lookout for African swine fever – a virus that is deadly to pigs and has not yet entered the U.S. but could be seriously harmful to pig exports and domestic herds.
“We have certainly learned lessons from the pandemic that we are applying to all of these projects,” noted Sanders.
“So many of these outbreaks have the potential to genuinely threaten the state’s economy, let alone our food supplies,” he continued. “The ability to quickly identify and respond to agriculturally critical pathogens and wildlife pathogens is critical to the state’s economic health.”
The Oregon State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory receives 3 grants to expand emergency capacity. Press release. Oregon State University. December 28, 2021. Accessed January 3, 2021.https: //today.oregonstate.edu/news/oregon-state-veterinary-diagnostic-lab-receives-3-grants-expand-emergency-response-capacity