State Funding Will Expand, Enhance Veterinary Diagnostic Services

SAINT PAUL-MINNEAPOLIS – (6/1/16) – Animal owners throughout Minnesota will benefit from new state funding provided to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. State legislators authored and Governor Dayton signed legislation to provide nearly $2.1 million to expand and enhance the laboratory’s services.

The University’s laboratory is Minnesota’s only full-service lab for animal health diagnosis; is the official lab of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health; and performs nearly 1.4 million procedures annually. The large caseload supports teaching and research in the College of Veterinary Medicine and throughout the University.

The one-time funds will provide equipment to create a dedicated section for developing new diagnostic tests for emerging diseases, and increase the lab’s genomic sequencing capacity to discover emerging viruses and characterize existing viruses. The funding also will allow for three years of computer programming and software development to securely deliver higher quality diagnostic reports to veterinarians and animal owners. The upgrades will allow the addition of historical trends to a herd’s health status, the ability to trace disease pathogens through a business’s supply chain, and ensure compatibility with regional and federal disease reporting standards. The new reporting tools also will be built for delivery via mobile technology—giving veterinarians and farmers more convenient access to their data.

“We play a critical role by putting accurate information into the hands of veterinarians and producers when they need it,” says Jerry Torrison, the laboratory’s director. “The livestock industry needs to respond quickly and appropriately to emerging disease threats, and having convenient and timely data is critical to making good decisions.”

“Increasingly, our users access their data online with a smartphone,” Torrison adds. Use of mobile technology to access the lab’s secure online portal has increased nearly six-fold in the past four years.

2015’s outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, and the wave of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus cases in U.S. swine herds in 2013 demonstrate the economic risk of animal disease outbreaks. In the case of avian influenza, the economic impact in Minnesota alone was estimated at over $650 million. With increased global travel and exposure, Minnesota’s livestock and human population is more vulnerable to new diseases than ever before. The University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory plays a key role in responding to disease outbreaks that threaten these populations.

The University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory helps protect animal, human and environmental health through 1) rapid diagnosis of animal diseases, 2) detection of emerging diseases, 3) surveillance of animal and zoonotic (transmissible between humans and animals) diseases and 4) training of animal health professionals.

Contacts: Jerry Torrison, director, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, torri001@umn.edu