CORVALLIS, Ore. (KTVZ) – Three grants from the National Animal Health Laboratory Network will allow the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory located at Oregon State University to continue to expand its role in responding to large epidemics in Northwestern Peaceful.
The main objective of the laboratory is to test and diagnose animal diseases, including infectious diseases in farm animals. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic first struck, the OVDL also helped test human samples, at a time when testing capacity in Oregon was severely limited.
“We have really illustrated that animal testing and human testing are one and the same, and our large-scale animal testing capabilities translate into human testing,” said Justin Sanders, Assistant Professor at the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine at OSU and one of the principal investigators of OSU’s TRACE Project, which tracks the presence of COVID-19 statewide. “Maintaining and developing these capabilities for the future is essential. “
Each of the three grants focuses on a specific facet of the laboratory’s emergency response work. Together, the grants total $ 675,155. The first will fund a series of practical exercises designed to improve interagency coordination and identify gaps in OVDL’s current preparation for regulatory testing.
The project includes tabletop exercises that simulate an epidemic, followed by field exercises where fake samples will be physically processed in the laboratory.
“The start-up exercises in the field are particularly valuable not only for troubleshooting, but also for the training of staff of the OVDL and agencies working in close collaboration with the OVDL”, said Christiane Löhr, professor at the veterinary school and diagnostic pathologist.
The second grant will help OVDL incorporate the new equipment it has acquired for SARS-CoV-2 testing into existing emergency testing workflows so it can expand its animal disease testing, as well as implement rapid sequencing of pathogens in the laboratory.
The third will streamline data transfer between the OVDL and the national laboratory network, and improve communication around disease surveillance and emergency response.
“We have certainly learned from the pandemic lessons that we are applying in all of these projects,” Sanders said.
The faster diagnostic labs can respond to an emerging disease, the better they can contain and minimize its impact, said Donna Mulrooney, head of quality assurance at the lab. For example, she said, labs across the United States are currently on alert for African swine fever, a deadly virus for pigs that has not yet entered the country but could seriously affect pig exports and domestic herds.
Oregon’s economy, in particular, is largely based on agriculture, Sanders said.
“So any of these epidemics has the potential to really endanger the state’s economy, let alone our food supply,” he said. “The ability to quickly identify and respond to pathogens important to agriculture and pathogens in wildlife is critical to the economic health of the state. “