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The NAHLN Quarterly |July 2011| 
Volume 3, No. 2



Founding Principles and Features of the NAHLN 


  • Standardized, rapid diagnostic techniques
  • Trained personnel, modern equipment
  • Quality standards, proficiency testing
  • Secure communication, alert reporting system
  • Adequate facility biosafety/biosecurity levels
  • Scenario testing
  • Implemented quality management system

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For quick viewing, click below on the articles that interest you!

In This Issue
Note from the Coordinator
NVSL TTXs Held to Discuss HPAI and FMD
Getting to Know Us
QA Update
IT Update
Surveillance Update
WS Surveillance
World Vet Year in 2011
Laboratory Policy and CONOPS
Lab Director Feature
Upcoming IT Messaging Training Course
Procedure Manual References
Acronym Key

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Upcoming Events

July 26,  August 23, September 27, October 25, November 22, and December 27,  2011: 

USAHA/AAVLD NAHLN Special Committee Conference Call  

July 31 - August 5, 2011:  International Quality Management Systems Training, Ames,  Iowa 


August 9-10, 2011:  

 IT Messaging Training Course, Ames,  Iowa 


August 19, 2011:  AAVLD/NVSL/NAHLN 

MOU Conference Call 


September 29-October 5, 2011:  54th Annual
American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians/
U.S. Animal Health Association Meeting
Buffalo, New York


December 16, 2011:  AAVLD/NVSL/NAHLN 

MOU Conference Call 

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Note from the Coordinator 


Working Together Toward a Common Mission


Over the past year, we've had many opportunities in the NAHLN and across Veterinary Services (VS) to work with others to improve our Nation's preparedness to address adverse animal health events.  In thinking through the many projects we've been engaged in and mentioned in previous newsletters, it seems I should pull them into a single list to demonstrate how they are all interrelated, build upon each other, and contribute to NAHLN's mission of preparedness.  The list of events and projects includes the following:

  • April 2010 - NAHLN Program Staff hosted a meeting for personnel from USDA APHIS VS to discuss policies and roles for decision-making during a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak.  Discussions focused on laboratory response issues and VS policies for sample collection, testing protocols, reporting of results, and development of surveillance plans.
  • May -September 2010 - Sixteen FMD tabletop exercises were held at NAHLN laboratories throughout the U.S. Objectives included practicing the decision-making process for NAHLN activation and de-activation; identifying testing algorithms to be used during an FMD outbreak and for proving disease freedom, examining testing capacity, taking into account the needs for ongoing outbreak and surveillance testing; law enforcement sampling; Select Agent Rule compliance; third-party sample submissions; and defining communications chains for reporting of test results. More than 450 people participated from 34 States and multiple Federal agencies.
  • November 2010 - National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense  (FAZD), through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), funded a meeting on Agricultural Screening Tools.  The goals of the meeting were to define agricultural screening tools, evaluate current status, identify and discuss the gaps and needs defined by the agricultural community, and obtain a consensus on requirements for agricultural screening tools.
  • March 2011 - Tabletop exercises were held at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) for avian influenza and FMD.  NVSL addressed roles and responsibilities, defined SOPs, and communication during outbreak scenarios affecting both Ames and FADDL campuses.  Details can be found in this issue in the article titled, "NVSL Tabletop Exercise Held to Discuss HPAI and FMD."
  • March 2011 - NAHLN participated in an FMD tabletop exercise with the Integrated Consortium of Laboratory Networks for practicing communication and collaboration with other laboratory networks in support of an FMD outbreak.
  • April 2011 - FAZD, with DHS funds, facilitated a second meeting on Agricultural Screening Tools.  During this meeting, industry perspectives on diagnostic testing were discussed and input was obtained on diagnostic screening tools for transboundary, emerging, and zoonotic diseases.  Policy gaps were also discussed and input was obtained on priorities for diagnostic method development.  
  • June 2011VS personnel participated in a follow-up FMD policy workshop to discuss the FMD tabletop exercise series findings, questions raised, and existing policies as well as how to address identified gaps.
  • July 2011 - Webinars were held to initiate user acceptance testing for the NAHLN Laboratory Capacity Estimation Model (LCEM).  NAHLN and FAZD have collaborated to develop a tool for monitoring NAHLN capacity.  The model will serve as a critical tool to manage diagnostic testing, improve knowledge of individual and overall NAHLN diagnostic testing capacity, and assist in the prioritization of resources.
  • September 2011 - The NAHLN Portal will be released to NAHLN laboratories for user acceptance testing as a secure and efficient means for sharing information on SOPs, proficiency testing, monitoring assay performance, and laboratory operations.
  • October 2011 -FAZD will sponsor a third Agricultural Screening Tools meeting with NAHLN stakeholder groups to obtain input on a laboratory-related concept of operations (CONOPS).  Participants will provide their perspectives on use of diagnostic assays during an outbreak; laboratory operations during an outbreak, and sample reagent and prioritization.  Details can be found in this issue in the article titled, "Laboratory Policy and CONOPS".
  • Ongoing Preparedness Diagnostic Development and Deployment work -The negative cohort studies for FMD, African swine fever, and Rinderpest were completed in March 2011; a negative cohort for a pen side FMD lateral flow device is planned for September 2011; negative cohorts as the first phase for the deployment for both FMD serology and FMD polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in milk to the NAHLN laboratories are scheduled for early FY2012.  Funding for the studies came from APHIS, DHS and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

While many of the above-mentioned activities have been independent projects, funded by a number of different Federal agencies, their goals and outcomes are inter-related.  They seek to build, inform, and guide the next preparedness effort.  With each of these activities, we have worked with partners to further develop laboratory-based capabilities, identify gaps, and develop priorities.  By working together, we have been able to make significant progress in our ability to respond to an adverse animal health event.  Working together really does work!




Martin sig line


Barbara M. Martin


National Animal Health Laboratory Network



NVSL Tabletop Exercises Held to Discuss HPAI and FMD


In 2008, the NAHLN held a series of tabletop exercises to examine laboratory and field operations during a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak. 


In total, 38 exercises were held, involving animal health responders from 45 States.  Similarly, in 2010 the NAHLN conducted another series of exercises, this time focusing on laboratory response during an FMD outbreak.  The second series of 16 exercises, most of which were regionally focused, involved personnel from 34 States and the province of British Columbia. 



NVSL participants engaging in the HPAI tabletop exercise

Photo courtesy of NVSL 

Both the 2008 and 2010 NAHLN exercise series generated a number of questions for the NVSL about its role as a reference laboratory and about policy needs regarding laboratory testing at different stages of a foreign animal disease outbreak.  To address some of those questions, NVSL leadership conducted two full-day tabletop exercises in March 2011.  The first was held at the NVSL campus in Ames, Iowa, and focused on HPAI response. The second was held at NVSL's Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (FADDL) in Plum Island, New York, and focused on FMD.  These exercises proved to be valuable tools for examining NVSL's role as a diagnostic reference laboratory, the supporting relationships between the NVSL campuses, and the requirements for laboratory tests that should be completed at NVSL versus at other NAHLN laboratories. 


The objectives for the NVSL exercise were similar to those for the NAHLN exercises, but also included NVSL's unique roles and responsibilities.  The objectives were to:


  • Define and practice coordination and communication between NVSL divisions, offices, and campuses during a foreign animal disease investigation.
  • Explore roles and responsibilities of NVSL as primary response laboratories and/or support laboratories under different outbreak conditions.
  • Identify testing algorithms to be used for confirmation of an HPAI or FMD outbreak, after the outbreak has been confirmed, and after animals have been vaccinated.
  • Examine testing capacity, taking into account the needs for ongoing testing, use of different laboratories/tests for outbreak testing, support of NAHLN laboratories, and third-party submissions.

NAHLN's establishment has addressed many of the testing capacity problems associated with response to a foreign animal disease outbreak.  However, it has also increased the need for coordination, communication, and information sharing among various laboratories and agencies that are responsible for carrying out USDA's mission to eradicate the disease.


One outcome of the NAHLN exercises was a renewed call for NVSL to deploy serology testing (ELISA) to the NAHLN laboratories.  Expanding this testing could be critical during the later stages of an FMD outbreak.  Another outcome is the development of guidance for NAHLN laboratories regarding the biosecurity levels that are required for avian influenza or FMD testing.  Both of these steps could help preserve NVSL's capacity for reference testing.


Exercise participants also identified ways that the NVSL-Plum Island campus could support the NVSL-Ames campus during an HPAI outbreak, and, alternately, for the NVSL-Ames campus to support the NVSL-Plum Island campus during an FMD outbreak.  For example, data entry personnel could be dispatched from one laboratory to the other.  Another possibility is for the supporting laboratory to provide liaisons to work with the field Incident Command Post(s) and other operations centers, such as the APHIS Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Riverdale, Maryland.


Participants noted that they would like to have examples of waivers (such as for the Select Agent Program or for importation of test kits) written beforehand and then modified to include specifics for a particular outbreak.  They also discussed having an "initial stages SOP" (standard operating procedure) to describe communications about the investigation and early findings to NVSL staff and selected personnel within the Department of Homeland Security and USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) as "on-island" partners with NVSL. 


Additional laboratory-related questions will be addressed at a policy workshop on June 29, 2011.  This workshop will include personnel from NVSL and NAHLN, as well as the National Center for Animal Health Emergency Management (NCAHEM).


Article submitted by Rosemary Speers, who is a Senior Research Scientist at CNA in Alexandria, Virginia.  CNA is a not-for-profit company which serves the public interest by providing in-depth and results-oriented analysis to help government leaders choose the best course of action in setting policy and managing operations. 

Getting to Know Us - John Korslund


John Korslund

Staff Epidemiologist


Photo Courtesy of John Korslund


John Korslund is a long-time Iowa resident transplanted to Maryland in 2003 to assume a role in Federal Service.  A 1976 graduate of Iowa State University, he settled into a career as a swine veterinarian and producer in Eagle Grove on the family farm for 27 years.  John graduated from the Executive Veterinary Program at the University of Illinois in 2000.


As a producer, he invested time in volunteering with the Iowa Pork Producers, including serving on the Iowa Pseudorabies Virus (PRV) Advisory Committee.  That began his foray into exploring opportunities in regulatory medicine, leading to a move to Riverdale Maryland in 2003 as a mid-career rookie swine staff officer with Veterinary Services' National Center for Animal Health Programs.


As PRV was eradicated, swine program work evolved into new areas, including the inception of Classical Swine Fever (CSF) surveillance activities in 2005.  That effort led to the swine program staff's first collaborative efforts with the fledgling NAHLN group, led by Barb Martin, and also the National Surveillance Unit (NSU).  NAHLN, NSU, and swine surveillance program activities have literally grown up together since then.


In 2008, John moved to Fort Collins Colorado for 2 years to assume a position with NSU. He currently remains on that staff, but returned to Riverdale in 2010 to join NSU staff stationed there.  The move back to Maryland was made in large part to reunite with his fiancé, Pat, and oldest son, Al.  Two other adult children, Kevin and Karen, remain in the Midwest.


Regarding NAHLN, John comments, "We at NSU have been involved in developing several swine surveillance plans, including PRV, CSF, and SIV.  In all cases the NAHLN 'surveillance stream' is our most powerful tool for early detection of agents of concern. It's VS' best link to samples from clinically ill swine."


Regarding the future of the NAHLN system, John states:  "I look forward to future endeavors with the NAHLN system as VS continues to expand its mission as a national source of disease surveillance information for the swine industry and the public at large.  New diagnostic technology and IT capabilities collectively provide the swine health community with huge opportunities to create value through shared information aggregation and dissemination.  We have a lot to offer all stakeholders as we develop mutual trust and lessen concerns related to information sharing and confidentiality among our stakeholders."  


NAHLN appreciates John's continued support of our activities and initiatives!


Article submitted by the NAHLN Program Office, USDA APHIS VS NVSL, Ames, Iowa

QA Update


NAHLN QMS Training Goes Global


Laboratory networks around the U.S. and the world are increasingly aware of the need for implementing and maintaining effective quality systems in member laboratories.  It has become clear that a source for training on the important basic concepts and strategies of quality system implementation and management is needed, not only for uninitiated U.S. laboratory staff, but also for laboratory staff around the globe.  The NAHLN Quality Management System (QMS) training had its second go-around in April 2011, and was a great success.  The course materials and presentations were enhanced based on evaluations from the participants from the first offering of this training, in August 2010.  In addition, there were a few specific changes made to provide familiarity to the attendees, who were from the National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN).  This training was the first information most NPDN laboratory staff had received about laboratory quality systems.  The trainers were pleased that after initial trepidation about the work a quality system would entail, the trainees were enthusiastic about the improvement potential for their laboratories, their ability to implement those improvements, and their ability to effectively put the concepts they learned into use.  Their valuable feedback enabled further improvements to the course, and highlighted the importance of the interactive portions of the training to help put concepts into practice.


QMS Training MapThis August, the QMS training will include U.S. participants as well as students from outside the U.S., including Kenya, Tanzania, Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.  Quality system training is not usually known for its dynamic edge-of-your-seat entertainment, but throw in cultural variety and different languages...this presents some unique challenges for the trainers.  Presentations are currently being revised to add some interactive opportunities during the talks, which will increase interest for the students, and help the instructors better gauge whether their message is being understood.  Translations of the presentations, workshop documents, and supporting documents for auditing the "wet lab," are in progress so the students will have materials in a familiar language.  Two display screens will be used, for students to view English and Russian versions of each presentation, while interpreters will translate the talks.  This is an exciting and unique opportunity for the trainers and attending students to interact with staff from labs around the world.


The ability to travel to other locations to obtain necessary quality training is not always possible.  How do we get this training to those laboratories and encourage consistency among laboratory quality systems? 


 To assist in this, a NAHLN funded, on-line quality training course is being developed at Washington State University.  This course will be available to students desiring quality system training for initial education or internal training enhancements for labs with an existing quality system.  It will allow laboratories from countries around the world to train their staff on quality principles from their own locations. 

At the time of the QMS course in August, the first module of the on-line course (Corrective Actions), will be available for evaluation by the attending English-speaking students.  This will enable developers to use that feedback to improve the Corrective Action module, and to build those improvements into the additional modules.  The on-line course offers exciting possibilities for future development.  The ability to exchange ideas, examples of documents, and to get feedback and guidance from quality "experts" directly, are potentials for this training venue in the future.  This is an exciting development in the world of laboratory quality management system training.



Article submitted by Patricia Lukens, Quality Systems Manager, Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington

IT Update


Personnel Transitions in the Office of Chief Information Officer


In June, the VS, Office of the Chief Information Officer transitioned certain personnel to different IT system assignments.  As a result, the NAHLN IT team has received a new compliment of staff members:  Scott Slusher (Developer), Robert Garand (Business System Analyst), and Jake Guzman (Project Manager).  These new personnel will work closely with existing personnel, including Leah Estberg, who continues as NAHLN IT Subject Matter Expert.  The new team will be tackling several tasks:  (1) resolving the existing Plan of Action and Milestone (POAMs) issues associated with the Certification and Accreditation Review, (2) reviewing opportunities and resources available to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the current system, (3) working towards releasing their first development efforts in early September, and (4) participating as instructors in the NAHLN messaging training in early August at the National Centers for Animal Health facility in Ames, IA.


For more information on the NAHLN Information Technology System, please visit the NAHLN website: NAHLN IT System .



Article submitted by Jake Guzman, Project Manager, Office of the Chief Information Officer, USDA/APHIS/VS/CEAH, Fort Collins, Colorado

NAHLN Surveillance Update


The NAHLN has collaborated with other groups within APHIS, the National Veterinary Services Laboratories, Wildlife Services, National Surveillance Unit, National Center for Animal Health Programs, and the National Center for Animal Health Emergency Management, to implement surveillance programs.  NAHLN laboratories have or are participating in surveillance programs for wild bird avian influenza (AI), bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), classical swine fever (CSF), chronic wasting disease (CWD), scrapieVS' swine influenza virus (SIV), and swine pseudorabies virus (PRV).

NAHLN laboratories play a critical role in VS surveillance programs by providing rapid standardized testing and results reporting for the above-mentioned diseases that are targeted in national animal disease surveillance initiatives. 

Testing data provided in The NAHLN Quarterly are based on results data that are available at the time of release of the newsletter.  Testing numbers may change in future reports as new information is received and testing data are updated (see article in Volume 3, No. 2 edition titled, "Data dynamics within the SIV Surveillance Program, Why do the reports change?"). 


AIWildlife Services' Wild Bird Avian Influenza (AI) Surveillance

The fifth year of sampling wild birds for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) began April 1, 2010.  Wild bird sampling has served as an important early warning system for detecting HPAI in order to protect the poultry industry as well as to establish what low pathogenic avian influenza viruses are naturally circulating in the population.  Samples have been tested across 35 NAHLN laboratories in States where the highest risk of HPAI entry via wild birds was determined based on a number of criteria deemed important by wildlife experts.  Due to lack of funding, Wildlife Services discontinued all wild bird sampling on March 31, 2011. 



BSEBovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Surveillance

Six (6) NAHLN laboratories currently participate in ongoing BSE surveillance testing.  BSE surveillance testing by NAHLN laboratories began in June of 2004.  The NVSL, Pathobiology Laboratory in Ames, Iowa performs confirmatory testing. The BSE Ongoing Surveillance system was implemented in September 2006 and replaced the BSE Enhanced Surveillance program that was initiated in 2004.  The two primary purposes of Ongoing Surveillance are to continue to assess and monitor changes in the BSE status of U.S. cattle and provide a mechanism to detect BSE if prevalence increases above one infected animal per million adult cattle. 


The table below shows sample testing performed, by month, for BSE by NAHLN laboratories (not including NVSL).  The total number of samples tested for BSE by NAHLN laboratories in the Federal fiscal year (FY) 2010 (October 2009 through September 2010) was 41,899 and 18,370 samples have been tested Quarters 1 and 2 of FY2011 (October 2010 through March 2011).


BSE Surveillance, Volume 3, No. 1 


CSFClassical Swine Fever Surveillance

The classical swine fever (CSF) surveillance program was initiated in 2006 to rapidly detect CSF virus and monitor the risk of introduction of the virus in the U.S. swine herd.  The surveillance program targets five specific swine populations for testing:


·         Sick pig submissions to veterinary diagnostic laboratories (VDLs)

·         Slaughter swine with high risk of CSF exposure

·         Feral swine

·         Swine populations with high risk of exposure (including waste feeding operations) in Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico

·         Swine foreign animal disease investigations as suspicious for CSF submitted to NVSL-FADDL in Plum Island, New York.

NAHLN laboratories conduct CSF surveillance testing for the first two surveillance streams listed above; samples from the remaining three surveillance streams are tested at FADDL.  In FY2010, 22 NAHLN laboratories provided diagnostic testing for the CSF surveillance program.

The table below shows the number of animals tested for CSF by NAHLN laboratories in each surveillance target population in FY2008 (October 2007- September 2008) through FY2010 and the first quarter of FY2011.

CSF Surveillance, Volume 3, No. 1


 CWDChronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Surveillance

Since 2001, VS has worked to develop and implement a CWD program to prevent and control CWD in farmed/captive cervid herds and to conduct surveillance in free-ranging cervid populations to include deer, elk, and moose.  The CWD program includes a herd certification program that involves surveillance strategies to monitor for CWD in farmed/captive cervid herds, to respond to detections of CWD-positive cervids, and to investigate epidemiologically-linked animals.  Interstate movement of cervids is also based on surveillance and herd certification status.


Currently, there are 23 NAHLN laboratories approved for CWD surveillance testing.  The NVSL, Pathobiology Laboratory in Ames, Iowa performs confirmatory testing.


The table below shows the number of farmed/captive cervids tested, by month, for CWD by NAHLN laboratories (not including NVSL).


In FY2010, 14,573 farmed/captive cervids were tested for CWD; an additional 5,415 cervids were tested by NVSL.


In Quarters 1 and 2 of FY2011 (October 2010 - March 2011), 10,314 farmed/captive cervids have been tested for CWD; an additional 3,180 cervids were tested by NVSL.


CWD Surveillance, Volume 3, No. 1


SCRAPIEScrapie Surveillance

The National Scrapie Eradication Program's objective is to eradicate scrapie in U.S. sheep and goat populations.  Eradication efforts have been ongoing since 1952; in 2001, an accelerated Scrapie Eradication Program was initiated.  Since 2003, surveillance for the program has been conducted primarily through the Regulatory Scrapie Slaughter Surveillance (RSSS) component.


Other scrapie surveillance activities include testing of scrapie-exposed and potentially exposed sheep and goats found through investigations of infected animals; clinical-suspect animals and other mature sheep and goats submitted veterinary diagnostic laboratories; rabies-suspect animals that test negative for rabies; and voluntary on-farm testing of flocks with risk factors for scrapie or as part of the Scrapie Flock Certification Program.


Currently, there are 23 NAHLN laboratories approved for scrapie surveillance testing.  The NVSL, Pathobiology Laboratory in Ames, Iowa performs confirmatory testing.


The tables below show the number of animals submitted, by month, for scrapie testing by NAHLN laboratories (not including NVSL).  Table 1 shows the number of animals tested under the Regulatory Scrapie Slaughter Surveillance (RSSS) Program and Table 2 shows the number of animals tested for other scrapie surveillance (as described above).


In FY2010, 45,598 animals were tested under RSSS.  753 animals were tested for other surveillance (non-RSSS) in FY2010; an additional 1,232 animals were tested by NVSL.


In Quarters 1 and 2 of FY2011, 16,254 animals have been tested under RSSS.  769 animals have been tested for other surveillance (non-RSSS) for Quarters 1 and 2 in FY2011; an additional 786 animals were tested by NVSL.


Scrapie surveillance, Volume 3, No. 1 


SIVSwine Influenza Virus Surveillance

The goals of the swine influenza virus (SIV) surveillance program are (1) to monitor the genetic evolution of endemic SIVs to better understand endemic and emerging influenza virus ecology, (2) make SIV isolates and associated epidemiologic data available for research and analysis, and (3) select proper isolates for the development of relevant diagnostic reagents, updating diagnostic assays, and vaccine seed stock products.  The program was initiated in May 2009 with a focus on monitoring the pandemic H1N1 2009 [pH1N1 (2009)] virus in swine.  As the human health threat of pH1N1 (2009) declined in 2010, SIV surveillance efforts were re-focused on monitoring all current circulating SIVs. Also in 2010, an anonymous submission protocol was adopted to encourage more industry participation and increase the number of samples available for monitoring SIV in the U.S. swine herd.  SIV surveillance efforts are targeted towards these three swine populations:

·         Case-compatible sick pig submissions to veterinary diagnostic laboratories

·         Swine exhibiting influenza-like illness at first points of concentration or commingling events such as markets and fairs

·         Swine populations that are epidemiologically linked to confirmed human cases involving swine influenza virus

NAHLN laboratories provide testing for all of the SIV surveillance streams.  In FY2010 and the first quarter of FY2011, 26 NAHLN laboratories provided diagnostic testing results data for SIV surveillance.  

SIV Surveillance, Volume 3, No. 1 


SIV testing results reported by NAHLN laboratories, FY2011 (year to date)

Number of herds (accessions) tested, number of influenza-positive herds, and number of herds with virus sub-typing results reported in FY2011.

SIV Surveillance 2, Volume 3, No. 1 


Of the 131 accessions with sub-typing results reported--Number of herds (accessions) with each subtype present in FY2011.  One herd in October 2010 and another herd in March 2011 reported mixed subtyping results (multiple subtypes present).

SIV Surveillance, Volume 3, No. 1

PRVSwine Pseudorabies Surveillance

The pseudorabies (PRV) surveillance program was initiated in FY2009 as an extension of VS' successful PRV eradication efforts.  The goals of the PRV surveillance program are to detect PRV entry and infection in commercial swine, demonstrate PRV-free status, and monitor domestic sources of PRV (e.g., via feral swine).  Surveillance data are captured from eight target populations; the target populations and associated objectives are:


Objective 1:  Rapid detection of PRV entry and infection into U.S. commercial swine

  • Sick pig submissions to veterinary diagnostic laboratories (VDLs)
  • Routine serology and herd profiling
  • Swine populations with high risk of exposure to feral swine
  • Pigs with known feral swine exposure
  • Swine cases reported to State and Federal officials as suspicious for PRV

 Objective 2:  Demonstrate freedom from PRV in commercial herds

  • Cull sow-boars at slaughter
  • Market swine at slaughter

 Objective 3:  Monitoring domestic sources of PRV

  • Feral swine


PRV-approved NAHLN laboratories provide the diagnostic testing for sick pig submissions, routine serology and herd profiling, high risk swine populations, swine with known feral swine exposure, and feral swine.  In FY2010 and the Quarters 1 and 2 of FY2011, 13 NAHLN laboratories provided diagnostic testing results data for PRV surveillance. 


NAHLN laboratories tested 16,305 swine for PRV surveillance in FY2010 and 14,337 swine in the Quarters 1 and 2 of FY2011 (October 2010 through March 2011; this figure does not include testing for PRV in feral swine).

PRV Surveillance, Volume 3, No. 1


The surveillance information in this article has been provided by the responsible
USDA APHIS offices.
Charts in this article are based on information and test results available at the time of report generation.  Numbers are subject to change due to later reporting of test results and updates in the database(s).


Wildlife Services' Surveillance and Emergency Response


The USDA, APHIS WS, National Wildlife Disease Program (NWDP) was developed to implement a nationally coordinated surveillance and emergency response system in wildlife.  Its purpose is the safeguarding American agriculture, human health and safety, and wildlife populations.  The NWDP is integrated with existing national animal health surveillance infrastructures, such as the NAHLN, to provide an important component in securing animal health, animal-based export trade, and safeguarding public health. With the assistance of State, tribal, Federal, and private cooperators, the NWDP has conducted surveillance and management of over 100 pathogens, toxins, or disease syndromes at local, regional, national, or international scales.


Feral swine

Mike Milleson of Wildlife Services collecting a sample from a euthanized feral swine at the Avon Park Air Force Range

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Corman


The charts below show the number of feral swine samples tested during Federal fiscal year (FY) 2010 and Quarters 1-3 of Federal FY 2011 (October 2010 - June 2011) for classical swine fever (CSF), pseudorabies virus (PRV), and swine brucellosis (SB) -- testing was performed either by APHIS personnel or NAHLN laboratories.  NAHLN laboratories also tested feral swine for African swine fever, foot-and-mouth disease virus, porcine circovirus type 2, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, and swine influenza virus.







Article and chart data submitted by Thomas DeLiberto, National Wildlife Disease Coordinator, USDA APHIS WS NWDP, Fort Collins, Colorado

APHIS Celebrates World Veterinary Year in 2011


In honor of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the first veterinary school in Lyon, France, 2011 has been declared World Veterinary Year. The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will join with organizations around the world, including the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and all of USDA to celebrate this milestone.


The celebration will help raise public awareness that the veterinary profession has been serving humankind for 250 years, and that modern veterinarians are not only animal doctors and animal welfare advocates, they are also key public health practitioners because of their crucial role in promoting food security by supervising animal production hygiene, controlling zoonoses, monitoring food quality and safety, conducting biomedical research, and protecting the environment and biodiversity.


If you wish to learn more about World Veterinary Year, you can visit www.vet2011.org.


We have a large and diverse veterinary community here at APHIS -- almost 700 veterinarians alone, and not just in Veterinary Services!  While most of the veterinarians at APHIS do work for VS, there are also many veterinarians who work in Animal Care, Plant Protection and Quarantine, Biotechnology Regulatory Services, Policy and Program Development, International Services, and Wildlife Services programs.


Our veterinarians are an important part of the APHIS team.  They are a very dedicated group of individuals who work hard every day to help us meet our mission.  We have veterinarians serving in leadership positions, developing policy, and working in the field doing a variety of hands-on tasks. 


During the year, we're going to highlight the great work done by APHIS veterinarians.  We're running a series of blog entries posted to the USDA blog, and we're currently developing a video that we can post on YouTube to bring the message of APHIS and its veterinarians to the social media world.


To all the veterinarians out there, I welcome and encourage you to participate in the World Veterinary Year activities.  Let's celebrate!



Article submitted by Gregory Parham, Administrator, USDA APHIS, Washington D.C.

Laboratory Policy and CONOPS 


Agricultural Screening Tools:  Laboratory Policy and Concept of Operations


Planning is underway for the next workshop in the Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease (FAZD) series of Agricultural Screening Tools (AST) meetings. The National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense at Texas A&M University has been working with Veterinary Services (VS) and specifically, the NAHLN Program Staff, on assessing the needs and gaps related to laboratory policy and concept of operations (CONOPS). While it is VS' responsibility to establish policies regarding animal health emergency response, implementation of the NAHLN involves working at close levels with States, industry, and diagnostic laboratories. Therefore, in order to develop complete, valid, and comprehensive documents, VS recognizes the need and this opportunity to gather input from the relevant NAHLN stakeholder groups in a workshop format. The perspectives from these stakeholder groups will be carefully considered by VS in drafting future policies, which will then follow the formal review process by a larger group to determine impacts and feasibility.


Invited stakeholder participants include: State Animal Health Officials, American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) representatives, NAHLN laboratory directors, animal industry representatives, FAZD personnel, Department of Homeland Security representatives, and personnel from various units across Veterinary Services.


The participants in the workshop will divide into three expert panels to address policy and CONOPS for the following topics:


1) Use of diagnostic assays during an outbreak

2) Laboratory operations during an outbreak-use of BSL-2/BSL-3 space and Select Agent considerations

3) NAHLN activation - sample and reagent prioritization


The workshop will be preceded by two webinars hosted by FAZD. The first will feature industry representatives explaining their goals for the workshop and anticipated roles they will play. A second webinar will be held with each individual panel and focus on review and discussion of pertinent background information to ensure productive discussion.


The goal for Panel 1 will be to discuss and gather stakeholder input on the topic of the use of diagnostic assays during an outbreak. This input will also be integrated into existing preparedness documents. The following specific issues will guide the discussion:

  • When confirmatory testing is conducted
  • How sample numbers are determined within and outside of affected zones
  • Testing algorithms with and without vaccination, including use of specific assays
  • Use of pen-side assays (when, where, whom, purpose)
  • Training and proficiency testing of personnel during an outbreak
  • Testing for movement and permitting
  • Use of VS' Outbreak toolbox

Panel 2 participants will be discussing and gathering input on the topic of laboratory operations during an outbreak. Specifically, the group will discuss these issues:

  • Guidelines for Biosafety Level (BSL) 2 and 3 testing-what components of testing can be performed in each level; movement of extracted material from BSL-3; activation of BSL-3
  • Requirements for sample storage including: the number and type of samples and length of time to be stored (depending on test result and zone); Select Agent program compliance and capacity
  • Additional Select Agent Rule issues such as the initiation criteria, training for NAHLN laboratories, and changes to the program
  • NVSL confirmation requirements during different stages of the outbreak and with different types of testing

The goal for Panel 3 will be to discuss and gather stakeholder input on the topic of sample and reagent prioritization. Panel 3 will be asked to address the following issues during their discussion:

  • NAHLN activation
  • Sample triage/prioritization-recommendations for how this will occur relative to new premises within and outside of each zone; location within the zones; genetics of the herds; and movement
  • Prioritization of sample reagents during an outbreak including who will be responsible-focusing on how we can work together
  • National Veterinary Stockpile or other contracts

The specific dates of the two-day agricultural screening tools policy and CONOPS workshop will be finalized by the end of July, based on availability of invited participants. However, it is expected to take place in Dallas, Texas in Fall 2011. A summary report will be generated, similar to those that FAZD produced for the other workshops.


 Article submitted by Barb Martin, NAHLN Coordinator and Sarah Tomlinson, Associate NAHLN Coordinator, USDA APHIS VS NVSL, Ames, Iowa and Fort Collins, Colorado

NAHLN Laboratory Director Feature



Richard Breitmeyer

Laboratory Director

California Animal Health and Food Safety Services Laboratory System

University of California-Davis

Photo courtesy of Don Preisler


Featured NAHLN Laboratory Director:  Richard Breitmeyer


Academic/Laboratory Background:  Richard Breitmeyer became the Laboratory Director of the California Animal Health and Food Safety Services Laboratory System (CAHFS) at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) in November 2010.  Breitmeyer completed his undergraduate studies in Animal Science at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, California; a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from UC Davis in 1980, and a Master of Preventive Veterinary Medicine (MPVM) in 1990 also from UC Davis. 


What brought you to the NAHLN laboratory?

"After stepping down from a 26 year career with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), including the last 17 serving as the State Veterinarian for California, I was recruited to apply for the Director position at the CAHFS.  I had a very close working relationship with CAHFS during my tenure at CDFA.  As a former State Veterinarian, I have a unique perspective of the importance of a NAHLN laboratory.  The California Department of Food and Agriculture is the CAHFS' principal funding agency, and its chief client.  I was fortunate to have a premier veterinary diagnostic laboratory just a few miles from my office in Sacramento, with ready access to a cadre of professionals to help when called upon."


Do you have any hobbies that you'd like to share with us?

"In my spare time I enjoy playing golf and drinking good wine."


Lastly, why is NAHLN important to you?

"My respect and appreciation for NAHLN labs and CAHFS specifically, grew each time we responded to an animal health or food safety emergency.  The relationship we had with CAHFS during the exotic Newcastle disease (END) outbreak in 2002-03 was especially rewarding.  They not only provided the surveillance system and expertise, which diagnosed the initial cases of END, but also mobilized resources necessary, with assistance from NVSL and other NAHLN laboratories, to support the response effort lasting a full year.  Most astonishing was their ability to develop a rapid PCR test in the face of the outbreak, which made it possible to test thousands of samples per week.  This capability provided decision makers with timely information and was essential to eradicate END and eventually prove freedom of disease. 


I believe there are many policy makers, including animal health and industry leaders that do not truly appreciate the importance of our NAHLN laboratories.  Organizing state-funded laboratories into the NAHLN provides the national infrastructure to deliver essential surveillance and response capabilities.  We all share the responsibility to make sure this vital infrastructure is well understood by industry, government and legislative leaders."


Interviewed by Traci Imlau, Program Assistant, NAHLN Program Office, USDA APHIS VS NVSL, Ames, Iowa


Upcoming Training Course on IT Messaging


On August 9-10, 2011, the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) Program Staff will host an information technology (IT) messaging training course held in Ames, Iowa.  Eleven State laboratories from throughout the country will be represented with sixteen participants attending.  NAHLN laboratory IT subject matter experts will provide training on the following:  a message overview of NAHLN and IT standards, Health Level 7® (HL7) content mapping, terminology mapping, message construction options, message transport and security, and message development.  The sessions will include classroom instruction, as well as hands on training.

NAHLN Procedure Manual References


Below you will find various NAHLN Procedure Manuals, the date of the latest version, and either a weblink or contact where they are available:


Classical Swine Fever Surveillance Procedure Manual, latest version dated April 2007


Pseudorabies Surveillance Procedure Manual, Version 1.3, latest version dated October 2010


Procedure Manual for Vesicular Stomatitis Viruses (VSV), latest version dated January 2008


Influenza Surveillance in Swine Procedures Manual, latest version dated July 2010




Archived issues of  The NAHLN Quarterly

The following links show a map and laboratory list of the laboratories that have been approved as part of the NAHLN testing network(including NVSL):

AI Testing Laboratories:  Map and Laboratory List
BSE Testing Laboratories:  Map and Laboratory List
CWD/Scrapie Testing Laboratories:  Map and Laboratory List
CSF Testing Laboratories:  Map and Laboratory List
FMD Testing Laboratories:  Map and Laboratory List
NDV Testing Laboratories:  Map and Laboratory List
SIV Testing Laboratories:  Map and Laboratory List
VSV Testing Laboratories:  Map and Laboratory List 

Original 12 NAHLN Laboratories:  Map and Laboratory List

For more information on the NAHLN, visit the NAHLN Homepage

Acronym Key

Click here for Volume 3, No. 2 


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