The Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) C. E. Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory aims to strengthen animal health programs with assistance from a federal grant. The National Animal Health Laboratory Network awarded $250,000 in funding to Kord Lab through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
The grant is a second round of USDA Farm Bill funding, and TDA will use the funds to build on previous work. Plans include development of efficient field polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests primarily for swine. Specifically, TDA aims to streamline lengthy and expensive testing procedures for Senecavirus A and foot-and-mouth disease virus. Both viruses are highly contagious among livestock and can result in economic losses and delays in the food supply chain.
“This field test project is unprecedented and illustrates the importance of One Health, a collaboration between human and animal health sectors,” said commissioner Charlie Hatcher, DVM. “It will be a game-changer for animal agriculture and the food supply chain and raise Tennessee’s standing as a national leader in enhanced disease surveillance and testing. We’re grateful for USDA’s recognition with this grant award.”
Lab director Dr. Kenneth Kim commented, “This grant award is significant because we can work to detect animal disease by enhanced testing. In collaboration with Vanderbilt University’s bioengineers, TDA is working to develop a field test that eliminates the needs for sample transport, intensive sample preparation, and highly controlled laboratory conditions. That means meat processors can get the ‘all clear’ faster and veterinarians can more quickly detect diseases that can devastate livestock.”
Early detection of high-consequence animal disease outbreaks benefits farmers, veterinarians, meat processors and regulators. TDA and Vanderbilt University report promising results from preliminary work and plan to have a fully functional prototype prepared for USDA validation within three years.
The State Veterinarian's office seeks to prevent the spread of disease through import and movement requirements, livestock traceability, disaster mitigation, and the services of the C. E. Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory. The Kord Lab provides free animal testing for food animals, fiber animals, and equines and a reduced cost for companion animal testing for pet owners of Tennessee.