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The NAHLN Quarterly |December 2011| 
Volume 3, No. 3



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
Annual VS Swine Diseases Surveillance Meeting
Getting to Know Us
QA Update
IT Update
Surveillance Update
WS Surveillance
International QMS Training
NAHLN Lab Director Feature
VS Update - Changes to CWD Program
Procedure Manual References
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Note from the Coordinator 


Assessment of preparedness through scenario testing


One of the founding principles of the NAHLN is to assess preparedness through scenario testing.  Over the past several years, we've had the opportunity to assess and improve our preparedness through tabletop exercises for highly pathogenic avian influenza and foot-and-mouth disease.  On August 26, 2011, USDA APHIS VS had a different kind of exercise as Hurricane Irene was approaching the northeast coast of the United States.  The threat level was designated "EXTREME" by the National Weather Service and included the potential for flooding rains, high winds, downed trees, and widespread power outages.  Significant impacts along the immediate coast included the potential for high waves, surge and beach erosion.  The weather was going to close the Plum Island Animal Disease Center and the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.  Veterinary Services needed to ensure that testing could be completed should an outbreak of a foreign animal disease occur.


As part of a Continuity of Operations (COOP) exercise, arrangements had been made for test materials to be transferred to the Ames campus of the NVSL.  We also needed to determine what testing capacity was available in the NAHLN laboratories.   Emergency contact lists are maintained for the NAHLN laboratories in order to support our other preparedness activities and exercises.  This was the first time we'd gone to the NAHLN laboratories during an actual event vs. an exercise to ask questions about available testing supplies.  Each of the 38 NAHLN laboratories approved to conduct the foot-and-mouth disease rRT-PCR was contacted by e-mail on Friday afternoon and asked to respond as soon as possible with the approximate number of assays that could be conducted with available in house materials.  That same day 68% (26 of 38) of the laboratories responded.  The response times can be seen in the chart below.  We learned a tremendous amount and have determined that we will incorporate a regular series of NAHLN drills asking for information in a standardized manner so that historical data are available as well as the processes necessary to query the NAHLN laboratories and quickly receive responses.  


Link to NAHLN COOP Chart 


Our COOP exercise helped us identify areas that need to be improved.  The processes we developed as a result will be tested in future exercises that will then be used to help us establish future preparedness goals.  We can never be completely prepared to address every emergency, but we can, and have used each opportunity to improve our preparedness to address adverse animal health events.




Martin sig line

Barbara M. Martin


National Animal Health Laboratory Network




Upcoming Events


December 2-4, 2011:  

2012 Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases (CRWAD) Meeting

Chicago, Illinois 

December 16, 2011:  AAVLD/NVSL/NAHLN 

MOU Conference Call 


December 27,  2011: 

USAHA/AAVLD NAHLN Special Committee Conference Call 


Annual VS Swine Diseases Surveillance Meeting


Comprehensive and Integrated Swine Diseases Surveillance


The annual Veterinary Services (VS) swine disease surveillance leadership meeting took place from August 30 to September 1, 2011, in Fort Collins, Colorado.  Representatives from VS Swine Health Programs, National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL), National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), National Surveillance Unit (NSU), Wildlife Services National Wildlife Disease Programs and regional epidemiologists participated in the meeting to evaluate current swine surveillance and plan future surveillance activities.


APHIS is working with industry and States to shift from disease-specific surveillance to a comprehensive and integrated swine surveillance (CISS) approach.  CISS provides a flexible sample collection, laboratory testing, and information management structure to monitor swine populations for existing program and foreign animal disease detection needs.  It also provides flexibility for rapid response to emerging swine surveillance needs or possible foreign animal disease incursions.  Within this framework, the group discussed issues related to current VS swine surveillance activities for classical swine fever, pseudorabies, and swine influenza virus, as well as African swine fever, swine brucellosis, and foot-and-mouth disease.


The working group discussed adequacy of current sample collection efforts, timeliness of test result reporting, and issues related to the laboratory testing algorithms for these diseases within the current swine surveillance programs.  Participants identified strengths and areas for improvement in current surveillance implementation and adjusted plans to ensure operational efficiency and fiscal responsibility in achieving surveillance objectives of early disease detection and/or proof of disease freedom.


Meeting participants identified several action items to improve the operational efficiency of swine surveillance and to explore potential areas for reducing program costs.  NSU was tasked with evaluating VS' current swine surveillance activities using quantitative metrics of surveillance sensitivity in addition to qualitative assessments.  These evaluations will provide information to assist program managers in better administering VS' limited funding available for swine health surveillance.


Article submitted by Maria Celia Antognoli, Veterinary Epidemiologist, National Surveillance Unit, USDA APHIS VS CEAH, Fort Collins, Colorado and David Pyburn, Veterinary Medical Officer, Swine Program Staff, USDA APHIS VS NAHPP NCAHP, Des Moines, Iowa


Getting to Know Us - Christina Loiacono

Volume 3, No. 3, Christie Collage

Christina "Christie" Loiacono recently joined the NAHLN program staff as an Associate Coordinator.  Christie comes to NAHLN from the NVSL Pathobiology Laboratory where she worked as a veterinary pathologist in the Pathology Section specializing in transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) program support and foreign animal disease training.


Christie grew up in southeast Virginia where most of her time was spent with horses and playing various sports.  She attended Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, VA and received a bachelor's degree in Animal Science followed by a DVM from Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine also on the Virginia Tech campus.  She worked in a private veterinary practice in Maryland for two years before completing an anatomic pathology residency and PhD at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2002.  Christie worked for three years in veterinary diagnostic laboratories in Missouri and Iowa as an assistant professor/veterinary pathologist teaching veterinary students.  In 2005 she accepted a position with the USDA.


Since starting with NAHLN, Christie has taken on the role of Chief Operations Officer.  She is currently spending the majority of her time reviewing the various processes that provide NAHLN stakeholders with a reliable and consistent program that strives to meet their needs at both the Federal and State/University laboratory levels.  By working closely with NAHLN leadership, Christie is also becoming more involved in many of NAHLN's activities such as supporting foreign animal disease outbreak preparedness, supporting disease surveillance programs, providing quality management system training, and using diagnostic technology and IT capabilities to create an efficient means of sharing information within the network.


In her spare time, Christie enjoys spending time with her husband, Randy, and two children, Sarah age 11 and Ben age 5, as well as with their horses competing in combined driving events.


We are very excited to welcome Christie as a member of the NAHLN team.


Article submitted by Tari Moody, Program Assistant, NAHLN Program Office, USDA APHIS VS NVSL, Ames, Iowa


QA Update


NAHLN QMS Training Experiences Continuous Improvement


The NAHLN Quality Management System (QMS) training course presented in August 2011 was a great success.  Following the quality tradition of continuous improvement, the NAHLN trainers use evaluations from each class and translate those into improvements and enhancements for future classes.  The training included modifications to the training materials to account for levels of expertise in quality principles among the students, the use of electronic "clickers" to respond to pop quiz questions embedded in each presentation, and improvements to the wet lab stations.


In addition, NAHLN provided Russian translation of the presentations and written materials and live translation for the students from Eastern Europe.  The professional translators were an integral part of the group interactions during both the lectures and workshops, allowing the Russian-speaking students to maximize their understanding and participation.


The QMS online training course is also making continuous improvement as development proceeds.  Students who attended the August 2011 QMS course, in addition to other quality managers across the U.S., have assisted in evaluating the first version of the training module on Corrective Action and provided feedback for improvements.  Students from Kenya and Tanzania, who also attended the August session, assisted with comparison of the online training module and the live course.  They were asked to assess the effectiveness of the online course and whether it could function as stand-alone training or if additional live training was necessary to fully convey the course materials effectively.


As a result of the feedback, improvements are being made to the online Corrective Action module, and those ideas will be carried over as new modules on general quality system principles, internal auditing, document control and more, are created.  Improvements include adding an instructional video on the basic principles of Corrective Action and Root Cause Analysis, separating the "Ask an Expert" video into shorter portions, improving the audio by adding an interviewer asking the questions, clarification of instructions for use and navigation of the site, and structural changes to the site to improve organization.


Information on the NAHLN QMS class and online training was presented via a poster at the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) annual conference in September 2011.  In addition, an overview of the online training was presented at meetings of the AAVLD Quality Assurance Committee and the AAVLD and NAHLN Laboratory Directors Committee.  As development of the online training module continues, additional feedback will be solicited from these groups to continue to improve the online course.  The two groups viewed this online training as a valuable resource for training internal staff on quality principles and are anxious for release of the completed modules.  This online training tool will be a valuable resource for laboratories to train their staff as budget issues put increasing constraints on travel and training expenses.


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


IT Update


On August 9-10, 2011 NAHLN hosted an IT Messaging training course.  Ten State laboratories from throughout the country were represented with seventeen participants attending.  The training material covered an overview of NAHLN and IT message standards, HL7 content mapping, terminology mapping, message construction options, message transport and security, and message creation.  The sessions included one day of classroom instruction and one day of hands on training.  Trainers were Mike Martin from SC-Clemson Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Jeff Duke from Georgia-Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, and Scott Ross from New York-Animal Health Diagnostic Center.


Update submitted by Cindy Chard-Bergstrom, Microbiologist, NAHLN Program Office, USDA APHIS VS NVSL, Ames, Iowa


NAHLN Surveillance Update


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 are participating in surveillance programs for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), classical swine fever (CSF), chronic wasting disease (CWD), scrapieswine 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?"). 


BSEBovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Surveillance

The USDA has conducted surveillance for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) since 1990.  In 2004, following the December 2003 detection of BSE in an imported cow, USDA implemented an enhanced BSE surveillance program to more accurately determine the prevalence of the disease in the U.S. cattle population.


USDA concluded that the prevalence of BSE in the United States is extremely low (less than 1 case per million adult cattle), and in 2006, transitioned to an ongoing BSE surveillance program that tests at a level more commensurate with this extremely low level of risk.  Ongoing BSE surveillance exceeds guidelines set forth by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), providing for testing at a level 10 times that which is recommended by OIE.


The NAHLN laboratories have provided BSE surveillance testing since 2004.  Currently, six NAHLN laboratories provide diagnostic testing for the BSE surveillance program.  These laboratories continue to conduct testing to detect BSE at the very low level of less than 1 case per million adult cattle, assess any change in the BSE status of U.S. cattle, and identify any rise in BSE prevalence in this country.  The NVSL Pathobiology Laboratory in Ames, Iowa performs surveillance and confirmatory testing on all samples identified as suspect (potential positive) for BSE by the NAHLN laboratories.


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 29,200 samples have been tested during Quarters 1-3 of in FY 2011 (October 2010 through June 2011).


Volume 3, No. 3, BSE surveillance chart 


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 (including waste feeding operations)with high risk of CSF exposure in Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico
  •  Swine highly suspicious for CSF and entered into a Foreign Animal Disease Investigation

NAHLN laboratories conduct CSF surveillance testing for the first two surveillance streams listed above; samples from the remaining three surveillance streams are tested at NVSL's Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (FADDL), the CSF confirmatory laboratory.  In FY 2010 and Quarters 1-3 of FY 2011, 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 FY 2008 through FY 2010 and Quarters 1-3 of FY 2011.



Volume 3, No. 3, CSF surveillance table 


CWDChronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Surveillance

Since 2001, USDA has worked to develop and implement a CWD program to prevent and control this disease in farmed/captive cervids, establish a national CWD Herd Certification Program, and assist States and tribes in CWD surveillance in wild deer, elk, and moose. The CWD program supports ongoing surveillance in farmed cervid herds to detect CWD-positive animals and to conduct follow-up investigations to trace CWD-infected animals to epidemiologically linked herds.


Currently, there are 23 NAHLN laboratories providing diagnostic testing for CWD surveillance.  The NVSL Pathobiology Laboratory in Ames, Iowa performs confirmatory testing on all samples identified as suspect (potential positive) for CWD by the NAHLN laboratories.


In FY 2010, 14,573 farmed/captive cervids were tested for CWD; an additional 5,415 cervids were tested by NVSL. In Quarters 1-3 of FY 2011, 12,442 farmed/captive cervids have been tested for CWD; an additional 3,937 cervids were tested by the NVSL.


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


Volum 3, No. 3, CWD surveillance chart 


SCRAPIEScrapie Surveillance

USDA initiated the National Accelerated Scrapie Eradication Program in 2001 with the goal of eradicating scrapie from the U.S. sheep and goat populations.  Since 2003, surveillance for the program has been conducted primarily through the Regulatory Scrapie Slaughter Surveillance (RSSS) program, which targets sheep and goat populations that have been recognized as having higher than average scrapie prevalence.


Other scrapie surveillance also targets scrapie-exposed and potentially exposed sheep and goats found through investigations of infected animals; clinical-suspect animals and other mature sheep and goats submitted to 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 providing diagnostic testing for scrapie surveillance.  The NVSL Pathobiology Laboratory in Ames, Iowa performs confirmatory testing on all samples identified as suspect (potential positive) by the NAHLN laboratories.


In FY 2010, 45,598 animals were tested under RSSS.  753 animals were tested for other surveillance (non-RSSS) in FY 2010; an additional 1,232 animals were tested by NVSL.


In Quarters 1-3 of FY 2011, 26,729 animals have been tested under RSSS.  1,230 animals have been tested for other surveillance (non-RSSS) for Quarters 1-3 in FY 2011; an additional 1,342 animals were tested by NVSL.


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).


Volume 3, No. 3, scrapie RSS surveillance chart

Volume 3, No. 3, scrapie non-RSSS surveillance chart  


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 VDLs
  • Swine exhibiting influenza-like illness at first points of concentration or commingling events i.e., markets, fairs
  • Swine populations that are epidemiologically linked to confirmed human cases involving SIV

NAHLN laboratories conduct SIV surveillance for the above-mentioned streams. The NVSL Diagnostic Virology Laboratory in Ames, Iowa is the SIV confirmatory laboratory.  In FY 2010 and Quarters 1-3 of FY 2011, 26 NAHLN laboratories provided diagnostic testing results data for SIV surveillance. 


Volume 3, No. 3, SIV surveillance chart 



SIV testing results reported by NAHLN laboratories, Quarters 1-3 in FY 2011   

The table below shows the number of herds (accessions) tested, number of influenza-positive herds, and number of herds with virus sub-typing results reported October - June in FY 2011.


Volume 3, No. 3, SIV surveillance table 



222 accessions had sub-typing results reported October - June in FY 2011. The graph below shows the number of herds (accessions) with each subtype present.  Mixed subtyping results (including multiple subtypes present and dual positives) were reported in six herds (accessions).


Volume 3, No. 3, SIV surveillance pie chart


PRVSwine Pseudorabies Surveillance

The pseudorabies (PRV) surveillance program was initiated in 2009 as an extension of USDA's successful PRV eradication efforts.  The program gathers surveillance data to support three specific objectives: (1) rapidly detect PRV entry and infection in U.S. commercial swine, (2) demonstrate freedom from PRV in commercial herds, and (3) monitor domestic sources of PRV.

Targeted Populations (surveillance streams)

  • Investigation and diagnosis of suspicious PRV cases
  • Sick pig submissions to veterinary diagnostic laboratories (VDLs)
  • Herds participating in routine serology and herd profiling
  • Herds classified as high risk
  • Herds with reported exposure to feral swine
  • Cull sow-boars at slaughter
  • Market swine at slaughter
  • 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 FY 2010 and Quarters 1-3 of FY 2011, 13 NAHLN laboratories provided diagnostic testing results data for PRV surveillance.  The NVSL Diagnostic Virology Laboratory performs confirmatory testing for suspect and positive submissions for PRV. 


NAHLN laboratories tested 16,825 swine for PRV surveillance in FY 2010 and 16,556 swine in the Quarters 1-3 of FY 2011 (this figure does not include testing for PRV in feral swine).

Volume 3, No. 3, PRV surveillance chart



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 to safeguard 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 sounder in Ohio
Feral swine sounder in Ohio
Photo courtesy of Craig Hicks


The charts below show the number of feral swine samples tested during Federal fiscal year (FY) 2010 and FY 2011 (October 2010 - September 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.






FY10 Feral Swine Samples Tested for CSF






FY10 Feral Swine Samples Tested for PRV 







FY10 Feral Swine Samples Tested for SB



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






International QMS Training - Follow-up


The NAHLN laboratories must have a high degree of confidence in the quality of the test results to maintain credibility for surveillance of foreign animal diseases, surge testing during an outbreak, and testing samples during the outbreak recovery phase.  All NAHLN laboratories must be fully accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) or by an accrediting body according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)/International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 17025 standard.  If a NAHLN laboratory is not accredited, it must have implemented a quality management system consistent with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)/International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 17025 standard, be willing to participate in regular site visits, and must be approved by the USDA APHIS VS NVSL.


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 non-accredited U.S. laboratory staff, but also for laboratory staff around the globe.  To assist NAHLN laboratories in meeting this requirement and to provide assistance to other countries interested in improving their quality management systems, the NAHLN program office offered a Quality Management System (QMS) training course at the National Centers for Animal Health (NCAH) facility in Ames, Iowa on August 3-5, 2011.  The course was open to NAHLN laboratories, as well as to international colleagues at no cost to the participants.  Ten participants from inside the U.S. representing eight States and 13 participants from outside the U.S. including Kenya, Tanzania, Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan took part in the training.


International AMS Training

David Korcal delivering QMS training course to participants

Photo courtesy of Brian Maki


The three-day training program provided an interactive class environment that included training on such topics as quality management system requirements, document control, internal auditing, corrective actions, and root cause analysis.  Presentations were enhanced to include interactive opportunities during the talks, to increase interest for the students, and help the instructors better gauge whether their message is being understood while their presentations were still in progress.  Two display screens were used so both English and Russian versions of each presentation could be seen, while interpreters translated the speakers during their talks.  In addition, a wet lab provided the opportunity for participants to apply what was learned by conducting an audit and recognizing non-conformances.  Translations of the presentations, workshop documents, and supporting documents for auditing the "wet lab" provided the participants with materials in a familiar language.


At the completion of the training, participants had the opportunity to complete evaluations and provide feedback on their experiences at the QMS training.  A total of 23 (100%) of the evaluations were returned, and overall the training was a very positive experience for both U.S. and international participants with the wet labs garnering the top scores.  Participants also had the opportunity at the beginning of the training week to learn more about the NCAH campus through presentations that provided an overview of NVSL, the Center for Veterinary Biologics, and the National Animal Disease Center.  They were also offered a tour of our facility, which seemed to be another highlight of their experience here.


Article submitted by Christina Loiacono, Associate Coordinator, NAHLN Program Office, USDA APHIS VS NVSL, Ames, Iowa


NAHLN Laboratory Director Feature:  James Britt


 James Britt - Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission Laboratory

James Britt

Laboratory Director

Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission Laboratory

Photo courtesy of W.R. Summers


Academic/laboratory background:

James Britt earned his DVM in 1974 from the University of Missouri and in 1982 earned a MS degree in Pathology from the University of Southern California as well as board certification in veterinary pathology.


What brought you to the NAHLN laboratory?

"I was at the Los Angeles County Veterinary Services lab, a part of the county health department, for 10 years and completed my pathology training there and was eventually the lab director.  I moved to a new veterinary pathology position at Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Lab in 1988 to benefit from being in a full-service lab and for a better quality of life for our family and I have been here since then."  Britt has been Laboratory Director of the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission Laboratory located in Little Rock, Arkansas since August of 2010.


Is there anything unique in your career that you'd like to highlight?

"I was in the old U.S. Air Force Veterinary Corps for 2 years, 1974-76, and serviced as base veterinarian for nearly a year in Taiwan as my first assignment.  I eventually retired from the U.S. Army Reserve as a Lt. Colonel in the Veterinary Corps.  I enjoyed meeting and working with other veterinary pathologists at my yearly 2-3 week assignments including the U.S. Army Institute of Chemical Defense and the veterinary labs in Texas and Germany and at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP).  While in Los Angeles, I did necropsies and histopathology on many hundreds of cases as part of the Marine Mammal Stranding Program and in such capacity, I was well versed in their pathology.  Our main work was small animal and zoo necropsies, tumor biopsies and included some horses and dairy cows.


My schedule at the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission still includes necropsies and histopathology on all species with somewhat of an emphasis on poultry diseases.  I have been active with the C.L Davis Foundation for Veterinary Pathology since beginning my pathology training in 1978.  I have been the Director of the Foundation's Veterinary Student Externship Program for 30 years and I have found a 1-2 month training 'lab home' for more than 70 students over the years and I have worked directly with about 50 in my labs.  I am also the director of the Davis Foundation's South Central Division and assist in planning our annual slide conference meeting in Galveston which has been held for 21 years."


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

"My wife, Sally, and I are active with our United Methodist Church and I have been a Boy Scout leader for more than 30 years, as a Scoutmaster, and now an assistant at the troop and district levels.  I am the 'Dean' of our council's annual Merit Badge University that offers about 60 merit badge subjects to 800 Boy Scouts in Little Rock.  I am president of the local bicycle club and ride about 5000 miles each year and I enjoy occasional multi-day self-supported tour rides and occasional short backpacking trips with our adult son, Adam."


Lastly, why is NAHLN important to you?

"It is important to me because it gives me coordination and communication with other laboratories when needed for assistance with questions or work load. NAHLN is important to our laboratory in offering proficiency testing on diseases that we normally would not be experienced with.  This helps assure that our routine work is also done in the same high standard.  We also benefit greatly from the quality assurance training that is sponsored by NAHLN."


Interviewed by Jill Brown, Program Analyst, NAHLN Program Office, USDA APHIS VS NVSL, Ames, Iowa


VS Update - Changes to CWD Program


The beginning of the Federal fiscal (FY) 2012 brings many changes across the country due to budgetary constraints.  Based on the President's proposed FY 2012 budget, the funding for the CWD Program is expected to be substantially decreased this fiscal year.  Although we do not yet know what the final FY 2012 Congressional budget will be, it is anticipated that the CWD Program budget will be reduced by $13.9 million, leaving the program with approximately $1.925 million in funding.


Given this anticipated funding level, certain APHIS-supported CWD Program activities will be discontinued or eliminated such as indemnity, cooperative agreements with State wildlife agencies for wild cervid surveillance, and funding for CWD research projects conducted at the APHIS Wildlife Services' National Wildlife Research Center.  This refocused national CWD program will result in general Federal oversight and essential regulatory functions which will be administered at the Federal level.  Participating States will implement the voluntary national CWD herd certification program pending publication and enactment of the CWD amended final rule which is in Departmental clearance.


APHIS support for CWD testing of farmed cervids will be discontinued after December 31, 2011.  Cervid producers are encouraged to submit their CWD samples as soon as possible while FY 2012 funding remains available.  Thereafter, the APHIS-approved CWD testing laboratories and NVSL will establish 'user fees' as a direct charge to the producers for routine CWD testing.  NVSL will continue to provide confirmatory testing for any presumptive CWD positive samples from farmed and wild cervids.


Article submitted by Patrice Klein, Senior Staff Veterinarian, CWD Program Manager, USDA APHIS VS NCAHP in Riverdale, Maryland and Christina Loiacono, Associate Coordinator, NAHLN Program Office, USDA APHIS VS NVSL in Ames, Iowa


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. 3 


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