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The threat of foreign animal disease introduction into the United States is a significant concern for agribusiness and the U.S. economy in general. Surveillance, early detection and rapid response to this threat through diagnostic testing by a network of state and university diagnostic laboratories as conducted by the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) is key to containing a foreign animal disease, facilitating recovery from an event and to limiting the negative economic impact on the U.S. economy.<P>
The Arizona Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory will provide surveillance, early detection and recovery testing for the region and the nation utilizing NAHLN approved methodologies, proficiency tested technicians, under appropriate biosecurity, within a structured quality assurance program and communicate results to the NAHLN system utilizing a secure database/messaging system.

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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: An introduced foreign animal disease such as foot-and-mouth disease, classical swine fever, and highly pathogenic avian influenza would have a serious negative impact on the U.S. economy. Surveillance, early detections and rapid response to an outbreak requires a system of well-staffed and equipped regional laboratories using the latest, rapid diagnostic methods such as polymerase chain reaction tests. Funding of this project provides the staffing necessary for the Arizona Veterinary Laboratory to provide the trained technicians and supporting functions in quality assurance, data entry and information technology necessary to conduct testing in the National Animal Health Laboratory Network system. <P>

APPROACH: This project addresses the stated goals of the NAHLN as they relate to the following animal disease diagnostic issues: 1. Testing capacities - A Research Specialist, Senior provides "train the trainer" functions, oversees quality control, proficiency testing, supervision of subordinate technicians, acts as liaison with NVSL and Plum Island virology personnel and engages in diagnostic testing. The two subordinate technicians (1.5 FTE) conduct NAHLN testing under direction of the Research Specialist, Senior. All three technicians are trained and have successfully passed all proficiency testing that is part of the NAHLN system. The three technicians rotate on-call by carrying a cell phone for emergency 24 hr/7day response to the potential need of state and federal animal health agencies for foreign animal disease testing of high priority samples. The AZVDL has a BSL-3 laboratory that is fully operational. During the project year, technicians will conduct testing under surveillance programs funded by the USDA for HPAI, END and CSF. 2. Sample handling and processing - This laboratory has a data entry technician who ensures proper identification/labeling of surveillance, outbreak and recovery testing samples as they arrive at the laboratory, entry of test requests into the LIMS system of the AZVDL, transport of samples to the PCR laboratory for testing while observing appropriate biosecurity procedures, and packaging and shipping of specimens as needed while following established federal guidelines. The technician will continue these functions during the new project year. 3. Quality System - The AZVDL is currently AAVLD certified as a full service laboratory for all species. The quality manager oversees the AAVLD compliant quality assurance program of the laboratory. During the new project year, the Quality Manager will conduct periodic audits of the quality system to document compliance. The Manager will respond to deficiencies by corrective actions, communicate those actions to the Laboratory Director and conduct follow-up procedures to insure compliance with necessary changes. The manager will perform document control to insure that the most current approved testing protocols are in place and that old protocols are removed from the laboratory. During an outbreak and recovery phases of an FAD, the Quality Manager will conduct daily audits of the testing and reporting to document accuracy of sample identification and transfer of data into the LIMS as well as other quality assurance issues that may arise. 4. Laboratory Information Management System - The IT specialist is currently working with our LIMS provider on the NAHLN IT messaging interface to allow messaging. Full messaging capabilities are expected by the end of June 2009. During the new project year, the Database Specialist will maintain the laboratory LIMS system and connectivity to the NAHLN repository. This will enable the rapid, electronic transmission of test results and data integrity as required under the NAHLN program.

Bradley, Gregory
University of Arizona
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