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The NAHLN Update |2013| 
Volume 5, No. 1



Founding Principles and Features of the NAHLN 


  • Quality management standards
  • Competency of laboratory personnel
  • Standardized diagnostic techniques
  • Reference materials and equipment
  • Secure communications and reporting system
  • Adequate facilities to ensure biosafety/biosecurity levels
  • Assessment of preparedness through scenario testing


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


In This Issue
Note from the Coordinator
NAHLN Portal Update
NAHLN Laboratory Director Feature
QA Update
Getting to Know Us
International Flu Networks Meeting
Tribute to Dr. William C. Wagner
VS Surveillance Update
WS Surveillance and Emergency Response
Changes to the NAHLN IT System
Procedure Manual References
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Note from the Coordinator 


Thank you to all that have sent kind and encouraging messages - I am very excited to be the new NAHLN Coordinator! I certainly have big shoes to fill behind Barb Martin, whom we will all miss dearly in this role!


I will remain in Fort Collins, CO, co-located with other VS units and their representatives - the Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health, Office of the VS Chief Information Officer (IT folks), and Commodity Centers.  This will provide an excellent opportunity to collaborate with other members of the Science, Technology and Analysis Services (STAS) as well as new units in the VS restructure with whom we regularly interact-the Surveillance, Preparedness and Response Services (SPRS) and Program Support Services (PSS).  Dr. Christie Loiacono, Associate NAHLN Coordinator, and the other wonderful NAHLN staff members will remain in Ames, IA at NVSL.


As the Coordinator, I plan to continue NAHLN on course - building upon those solid founding principles that all of the partners (in conjunction with Barb) have previously established.  However, we are entering a new era with new challenges and new roles for NAHLN.  Some of these include: focusing on NAHLN's role in emerging diseases and issues; strengthening and broadening our preparedness with new assays for use in the NAHLN; expanded electronic messaging capability, and methods to continue exercising our alertness; network restructuring based on ideas set forth in the NAHLN concept paper; continuing codification efforts for the network in the Code of Federal Regulations; on-going need to improve efficiency while carrying on our mission during a time of increasing challenges; and meeting the expectations that are continuously presented to NAHLN as the National Animal Health Laboratory Network in the U.S.


I look forward to these challenges and continuing to build and strengthen the partnerships of NAHLN, which will be our key to successfully moving forward together.  I believe strongly in frequent and transparent communication, so please feel free to contact me directly by phone at (970) 494-7152 or e-mail sarah.m.tomlinson@aphis.usda.gov.


I'm honored and eager to continue working with NAHLN and our partners!




 Sarah Tomlinson 


Sarah M. Tomlinson, DVM


National Animal Health Laboratory Network



 Upcoming Events 



October 17-23, 2013

117th USAHA/56th AAVLD Annual Meeting

San Diego, CA


November 16-20, 2013

American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP)/American Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathology (ASVCP) 2013 Annual Meeting

Montreal, QC, Canada 


December 8-10, 2013

2013 Conference of Research Workers in Animal Disease (CRWAD) Annual Meeting

Chicago, IL



Portal Update


The NAHLN Portal is a web application created to provide a secure collaboration and communication system for members of NAHLN.  In addition, this secure network provides NAHLN program staff and management with capability, capacity, and readiness data for the network member laboratories.  Development on the NAHLN Portal began in spring of 2011 and the system went live in December of 2011.


The NAHLN program office is pleased to announce that the NAHLN Portal laboratory directory will soon be updated to provide several new feature enhancements.  Updates have also been made to the Equipment Inventory, Proficiency Testing, Standard Operating Procedure, Accreditation, Analyte, and Assay Performance sections.  A newly completed user guide will be provided to assist users with navigating through all the new areas and functions in the laboratory directory.  As always if you have any questions or need assistance please contact the NAHLN program office at NAHLN@aphis.usda.govFor immediate assistance call (515) 337-7731 or contact the NAHLN Portal helpdesk by clicking on the Live Support Online button on any page.


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




NAHLN Laboratory Director Feature


Dr. Claudia Osorio

Dr. Claudia Osorio

Laboratory Director

Salisbury Animal Health Laboratory

of the Maryland Department of Agriculture

Featured NAHLN Laboratory Director:   

Claudia Osorio, DVM, MSpVM, Dipl. ACPV


Academic/Laboratory Background:

Dr. Osorio obtained her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at La Salle University in Bogotá, Colombia.  Following graduation, she had the opportunity to serve six years as the laboratory director in one of the twenty-six laboratories of the Colombian Agricultural Institute.  The Institute served as a basis for diagnostic and epidemiological surveillance for the prevention, control, and eradication of pests and diseases in crops and animals.  As a laboratory director, she had the opportunity to travel to Japan and participate in advanced studies on protozoan diseases at the Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine at the Research Center for Molecular Protozoan Immunology in Obihiro, located on the island of Hokkaido.  During her career, time was spent under the guidance of Dr. Robert Eckroade at the University of Pennsylvania, New Bolton Center where knowledge and training was gained in avian diagnostic techniques; this inspired her to continue a career in avian medicine.  Dr. Eckroade was instrumental as a mentor and friend during Dr. Osorio's career.


Dr. Osorio accepted a combined program residency in Poultry Health Management and Master of Specialized Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University (NCSU).  While attending NCSU, she had the opportunity to enhance her knowledge and experience in avian medicine under the guidance and teachings of the faculty of the Department of Population Health and Pathobiology, particularly by Dr. David Ley, Dr. John Barnes, Dr. Jim Guy, Dr. Michael Martin, Dr. Dennis Wages, and Dr. Oscar Fletcher.  In 2007 she graduated and received her board certification from the American College of Poultry VeterinariansSince 2011, she has served as an American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) House of Delegates member from Maryland.


How long have you been Director?

"Since 2007, I have served as the Director of the Salisbury Animal Health Laboratory of the Maryland Department of Agriculture, located on the Delmarva Peninsula. The laboratory serves and supports the Delmarva Poultry Industry as well as non-commercial poultry growers by providing diagnostic services and surveillance for avian influenza and Newcastle disease, as well as other poultry pathogens. In addition, I also oversee the development of ancillary testing in bacteriological, virological, and molecular biological methods.  The laboratory also serves as a participant in the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) by enforcing regulations and sanitary control measures.  As the Director, I have been directly involved in the management of avian diagnostics as well as the implementation of the laboratory OIE: ISO17025 Quality Management System. The laboratory received its accreditation in June 2012, from the American Association of Laboratory Accreditation." 


What brought you to NAHLN Laboratory?

"Based on my training and experience as a poultry pathologist as well as my previous background in laboratory diagnostics, I felt that the laboratory could be a valuable contributor to the NAHLN while serving as a support laboratory to the Delmarva Poultry Industry and the citizens of Maryland."


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

"In my spare time I enjoy exercise and fitness walking.  It is a great way to relax after a long work week! I also enjoy traveling overseas when time allows."


Lastly, why is NAHLN important to you?

"As a member of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, the Salisbury Animal Health Laboratory is privileged to be recognized as a vital link in safeguarding the protection and welfare of animals and associated diseases that may affect them as well as human health.  Through surveillance and monitoring of animal populations, the laboratory serves in the first line of defense against the introduction of new and/or exotic animal diseases, keeping them from entering and becoming established in the country.  As the world population continues to grow geometrically, great pressure is being placed on arable land, water, energy, and biological resources while trying to provide an adequate supply of food and maintain the integrity of our ecosystem.  As a NAHLN laboratory it is our responsibility to remain vigilant and work in partnership with other laboratories to protect the safety and welfare of animal agriculture."


Welcome to the NAHLN, Dr. Osorio!


Article submitted by Racheal Conrad, Administrative Support Assistant, NAHLN Program Office, USDA APHIS VS NVSL, Ames, IA


QA Update


NAHLN QMS Training Experiences Continuous Improvement


The NAHLN laboratories must have a high degree of confidence in the quality of 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. 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 along with support from International Services and the Professional Development Staff, offered a Quality Management System (QMS) training course at the National Centers for Animal Health (NCAH) facility in Ames, IA, on August 6-9, 2013.



QMS Training 


It has become clear that training on the important basic concepts and strategies of quality system implementation and management is appreciated and well-utilized by NAHLN laboratories.  The NAHLN Quality Management System (QMS) training course presented in August 2013 was a great success.  Following the quality tradition of continuous improvement, the NAHLN trainers used evaluations from previous QMS courses to improve and enhance this training opportunity.  Training materials used last year to present "How to write an SOP" were expanded into a workshop on "Document Writing."  Very similar to last year, the use of electronic "clickers" by course participants to respond to pop quiz questions embedded in each presentation provided instant feedback to presenters.  Thirty-six participants from inside the U.S. and 25 participants representing 17 countries took part in the training.  The three-and-a-half day training provided an interactive class environment that included topics such as quality management system requirements, document control, internal auditing, corrective actions, and root cause analysis.  Presentations were enhanced to include interactive opportunities including the use of "clickers" during the talks and small group workshops to engage student interest, and better determine whether the information was being understood.  A mock audit gave the participants the opportunity to practice the knowledge and techniques taught through the lectures and workshop.


At the completion of the training, participants had the opportunity to complete evaluations and provide feedback on their experiences at the QMS training.  The overall response to the training was very positive for both U.S. and international participants with the mock audit 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, DVM, PhD, DACVP, Associate Coordinator, NAHLN Program Office,  USDA APHIS VS NVSL, Ames, IA





Getting to Know Us - Acquisition of Goods and Services


NAHLN depends on many partnerships in order to effectively deliver our mission.  One invaluable partnership we have is with the Procurement Staff in USDA.  They enable us to maintain laboratory equipment, acquire supplies, and reimburse laboratories for diagnostic services.   


NAHLN receives support from the Procurement Staff from both the Marketing and Regulatory Programs Business Services (MRPBS), Administrative Services Division (ASD), Procurement Branch in Minneapolis, Minnesota and from the Veterinary Services, National Veterinary Services Laboratories, Administrative Unit in Ames, Iowa.   Their support includes issuance and delivery of equipment maintenance contracts, blanket purchase agreements, and purchase orders.  In addition, other individuals within NVSL and MRPBS ASD assist warranted Contracting Officers with procurement activities.   


Over the last several years, NAHLN laboratory personnel have worked with individuals from these units.  Photos of these individuals are below - we thought this feature would be a great way to match faces with names!


We'd also like to take this opportunity to thank each of these individuals for their hard work and dedication to managing resources in order to efficiently and effectively deliver NAHLN programs!

Staff from the VS NVSL in Ames, IA: Center: MaryAnn Waterbury (Financial Technician), Left to right: Tari Moody (NAHLN Administrative Asst.), Rhonda Graham (Purchasing Agent), Mindy Miller (Procurement Technician), Sara Matchie (Lead Purchasing Agent), Michelle Bahr (Purchasing Agent), Jill Brown (NAHLN Program Analyst), Cindy Chard-Bergstrom (NAHLN Microbiologist), Kelly Burkhart (NAHLN Microbiologist), and Christie Loiacono (NAHLN Associate Coordinator). Not pictured: Sarah Tomlinson (NAHLN Coordinator)


Staff from MRPBS ASD Procurement Branch in Minneapolis, MN: Left to right: Kim Yen Nguyen (Contracting Support Assistant), Margie Thorson (Procurement Branch Chief), Larry Nelson (Contracting Officer), Jeanine Goral (Procurement Technician), and Patricia Harris (Contracting Officer).


Article submitted by Jill Brown, Program Analyst, NAHLN Program Office, USDA APHIS VS NVSL, Ames, IA


If you like this article you may also be interested in the feature on Connie Osmundson, Agreements Specialist from Volume 1, No. 4.



International Influenza Networks Meeting


NAHLN and NVSL Participate in the

International Influenza Networks Meeting


In January 2013, the Association of Public Health Laboratories in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hosted an International Influenza Networks Meeting that drew participants from around the world.  Animal health, public health, researchers, and commercial vaccine and pharmaceutical company representatives attended to share lessons learned; identify gaps in surveillance, communication, science and coordination of activities; and overall develop improved information and resource-sharing strategies across the various networks.


The break-out discussions provided the opportunity to highlight NAHLN as an example for other countries to learn about partnerships between State and Federal laboratories as well as examples of local relationships between animal and public health entities.  Further, the OFFLU group was presented as another illustration of successful integration across animal and human networks. OFFLU participants represent the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a small group of experts that work together on issues ranging from technical, bench-level methods to nomenclature to policy and communication.  OFFLU works closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) to share information concerning diagnostic protocols, current activities, and surveillance programs specific to type A influenza.

The need for broadened surveillance with focus on the human-animal interface and considerations for syndromic approaches was identified as an important gap across networks.  Participants recognized the reality that public health funding may be needed to support animal health infrastructure in some areas due to the need to emphasize the importance of zoonotic diseases.  The animal health surveillance break-out group recommended improving coordination of surveillance and epidemiology across animals and humans, including data sharing.  They also recommended that sharing research on species susceptibility, reservoirs, and diagnostic assays between the animal and human health communities be improved.


Several reoccurring key themes of the meeting were: sustainability and communication across all networks - human and animal.  The emphasis on sustainability included funding concerns, but also relationships, communication, data sharing, and training.  A number of resources were presented, such as the Global Health Network as potential sites for vetted information and training.  Nearly all participants agreed communication - of data, best practices, and resources - was vital to support sustainable networks, relationships and coordinated global efforts.  Strategic use of the new age and instant modes of communication such as smartphones, Twitter and Facebook was recognized as a must.


Initial action items identified included producing a Meeting Proceedings and cataloging all known networks and their functions to make publically available.


Article submitted by Sabrina L. Swenson, DVM, PhD, Head of Bovine, Porcine, and Aquaculture Viruses Section, Diagnostic Virology Laboratory and  Nichole L. Hines, MS, PhD, Microbiologist, Diagnostic Virology Laboratory, USDA APHIS VS NVSL, Ames, IA and Sarah M. Tomlinson, DVM, NAHLN Coordinator, USDA APHIS VS NVSL, Fort Collins, CO


Tribute to Dr. William C. Wagner


 Tribute to a NAHLN Visionary




William C. Wagner, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACT




Esteemed colleague and dear friend, Dr. William (Bill) C. Wagner, 80, died Monday, December 10, 2012, at his home in Reston, VA, just days after being honored by the Conference of Research Workers in Animal Disease (CRWAD) as their 2012 annual meeting Dedicatee.  Over several months leading up to Bill's trip to Chicago to receive the highest honor CRWAD bestows, he had fought an aggressive intestinal cancer with a courageous stoicism that would come as no surprise to those who knew of Bill's disciplined approach to life.


Victoria, his wife of 19 years, shared with me that once diagnosed, "Bill spent the remainder of the year living life to the fullest in the midst of traversing some pretty serious medical issues.  There is no doubt that Bill taught those around him how to live in the midst of dying."  She went on to say that this was nowhere more evident than in his pilgrimage to the CRWAD meeting where his entire family, including four grown children and many of his closest veterinary colleagues, gathered with the CRWAD general membership to recognize Bill's tremendous accomplishments and service to animal and veterinary science.  Victoria said about this risky trip to CRWAD, which would be followed in only 5 days by Bill's passing, that, "Bill achieved his focus, which pretty much summed up his life."


You can read in the matter-of-fact obituary, that Bill wrote himself, about the facts of his life.  Even written in Bill's succinct, just-the-facts, style, the long list of his accomplishments attests to the impressive focus and sense of purpose that infused everything he did.  As comprehensive as that biography may seem, there is far more to this man than is captured in an inventory of his many professional involvements and credentials.  Below is my humble and incomplete effort to supplement Bill's modest autobiographical sketch with some of what I, as a 30 year mentee, colleague and friend of Bill's, can add to his story.


Bill's contribution to the NAHLN as a State-Federal partnership is just one of the achievements Bill did not often speak of but which has left a legacy national in scope and significance.  In early 2002, the Secretary of Agriculture announced that funds were available for USDA agencies to use in strengthening the post-9-11 biosecurity of American agriculture systems.  Among other options, APHIS proposed an allocation of $10 million to fund five "surge" laboratories that would provide increased Federal testing capacity in the event of a major animal disease outbreak. Concurrently, Bill Wagner, then Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) Animal Protection Division Director (now the National Institute of Food and Agriculture), proposed, in consultation with CSREES' resident plant pathologist, Dr. Kitty Cardwell, an allocation to establish two diagnostic networks, one for animal diseases and one for plant diseases (eventually, NAHLN and the National Plant Diagnostic Network, respectively), based upon the concept of a mutually-leveraging, highly integrated, State-Federal partnership.  Unique in the early vision of the NAHLN was bringing of State and Federal animal diagnostic laboratories into unprecedented close operational collaboration and interdependence, to better protect our nation against high consequence animal disease threats.  The concept paper was quickly approved by the Secretary's office and, in March of 2002, CSREES was allocated $9 million to initiate the two diagnostic networks, with the funds to be used more or less equally between the plant and animal systems.  In discussions with the Secretary's office, it was subsequently decided that APHIS' allocations could be more effectively used if consolidated with CSREES resources.  It was thus determined that APHIS and CSREES allocations would be pooled, and awards would be made under CSREES' granting authorities on behalf of both agencies.  Bill immediately reached out to foster the establishment of a co-equal Federal leadership partnership between NIFA and APHIS and the rest, as they say, is history.


Bill's commitment to focus and determination was reflected as strongly in his non-professional life.  When I first met Bill, I was a new graduate student in the University of Illinois' Department of Veterinary Biosciences which he served as head. Before long, Bill had me and a few other students running with him every day at noon.  In his 40s, I soon learned, Bill was running marathons, and encouraged others to be healthier through the joys of running.  He could have left most of us in the dust during these sessions but he slowed his pace to engage us in interesting discussions.  It was during one of these jogging chats that I learned Bill had been male lead in his community theater's production of "Who's afraid of a Virginia Wolf."  This man of science and medicine, I gradually became aware, not only appreciated the arts, but participated in them.  It was Bill, too, who invited all his students and staff to an annual Christmas party at his home.  I learned many years later that he continued that tradition when he served as Director of the Animal Protection Division Director at USDA-CSREES. Bill cared about people and the arts, as well as science, and in his reserved, distinguished and very sincere manner, showed it in both word and deed.


While it is difficult to say good bye to our friend and colleague, we are very fortunate to have so many wonderful memories of Bill.  Especially for those of us involved in the NAHLN, we can honor his life, and feel closer to his memory, by continuing our work toward realizing Bill's and others' vision for this important network.  And as we make headway toward NAHLN goals, no matter how slow progress may be at times, let's make a point to raise an occasional toast (like we did during the 2013 Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges meeting) to the man whose vision and tenacity started it all.


Article submitted by Gary B. Sherman, MS, DVM, PhD, Member of the NAHLN Coordinating Council, National Program Leader, Veterinary Science, USDA NIFA Institute of Food Production and Sustainability (IFPS), Washington, DC


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.  Currently, NAHLN laboratories are participating in surveillance programs for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), classical swine fever (CSF), scrapieinfluenza A virus in swine (IAV-S), 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 Update 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

On May 29, 2013, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released a statement regarding notification received from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) upgrading the United States' risk classification for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) to negligible risk.


The USDA has conducted surveillance for 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.


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, serves as the national reference laboratory and performs surveillance and confirmatory testing on all samples identified as suspect (potential positive) for BSE by the NAHLN laboratories.


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 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, serves as the national reference laboratory and performs surveillance and confirmatory testing on all samples identified as suspect (potential positive) for BSE by the NAHLN laboratories.


The chart below shows sample testing performed, by quarter, for BSE by NAHLN laboratories (not including NVSL) in Federal fiscal years (FY) 2012 and 2013.  The total number of animals tested for BSE by NAHLN laboratories in FY 2012 (October 2011 through September 2012) was 40,612 and 32,207 for the first three quarters of FY 2013 (not including NVSL).


Number of Animals Tested for BSE by NAHLN Laboratories

FY 2012 and FY 2013

Volume 5, No. 1, BSE Surveillance  


CSFClassical Swine Fever Surveillance 


The 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 a high probability of CSF exposure
  • Feral swine
  • Swine populations (including waste feeding operations)with a high probability for 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 and NVSL's Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (FADDL) is the CSF reference and confirmatory laboratory.  In FY 2013, 18 NAHLN laboratories have provided diagnostic testing for the CSF surveillance program.


The table below shows the number of animals tested for CSF by NAHLN laboratories in two target surveillance populations in FY 2012 and the first three quarters of FY 2013.  Feral swine test counts are not included here and waste feeder/high probability data are not available.


Volum 5, No. 1, CSF Surveillance         

Information on feral swine serologic CSF testing can be found in the article below titled "Wildlife Services' Surveillance and Emergency Response."    



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, 16 NAHLN laboratories are approved to conduct diagnostic testing for scrapie surveillance.  The NVSL Pathobiology Laboratory in Ames, Iowa serves as the national reference laboratory and performs surveillance and confirmatory testing on all samples identified as suspect (potential positive) by the NAHLN laboratories.


In FY 2012, 40,429 animals were tested, and in the first three quarters of FY 2013, 31,026 animals have been tested for scrapie by NAHLN laboratories.  The charts below show the number of animals, by quarter, tested for scrapie by the NAHLN laboratories in FY 2012 and FY 2013 (not including NVSL).



Number of Animals Tested for Scrapie by NAHLN Laboratories

FY 2012 and FY 2013

 Volume 5, No. 1, Scrapie Surveillance


SIVSwine Influenza A Virus Surveillance

The goals of the swine influenza A virus (IAV-S) surveillance program (formally referred to as swine influenza virus) are (1) to monitor the genetic evolution of endemic IAV-S to better understand endemic and emerging influenza virus ecology, (2) make IAV-S 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, IAV-S surveillance efforts were re-focused on monitoring all current circulating IAV-S.  Also in 2010, an anonymous submission protocol was adopted to encourage more industry participation and increase the number of samples available for monitoring IAV-S in the U.S. swine herd.  IAV-S 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 IAV-S

NAHLN laboratories conduct IAV-S surveillance for the above-mentioned streams.  The NVSL Diagnostic Virology Laboratory in Ames, Iowa is the IAV-S confirmatory laboratory.  


IAV-S testing results reported by NAHLN laboratories

in FY 2012 and FY 2013


The table below shows the number of herds (accessions) tested, number of influenza-positive herds, and number of herds with virus subtyping results reported in FY 2012 and FY 2013. Vol 5, No. 1 SIV Surveillance   

*Influenza-positive accessions are those with samples with positive matrix assay results




PRVPseudorabies Virus Surveillance

The 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 probability for exposure
  • Herds with reported exposure to feral swine
  • Cull sow-boars at slaughter
  • Market swine at slaughter
  • Feral swine

PRV-approved NAHLN laboratories test serologic samples from domestic swine for four targeted PRV surveillance populations: sick pig submissions, routine serology and herd profiling, swine populations with a high probability for exposure, and swine with known feral swine exposure. NAHLN laboratories also conduct PRV testing for domestic swine samples that are submitted as part of epidemiologic trace back investigations. Twelve NAHLN laboratories currently conduct PRV surveillance sample testing in domestic swine and four NAHLN laboratories conduct PRV testing on feral swine samples (see article titled "WS Surveillance and Emergency Response"). The NVSL Diagnostic Virology Laboratory serves as the national reference laboratory and performs confirmatory testing for suspect and positive submissions for PRV.


In FY 2012, 310,569 and in the first three quarters of FY 2013, 203,342 swine samples were tested under the PRV surveillance program in the following streams:  diagnostic laboratory serologic submissions, sow-boar slaughter, and market slaughter.  NAHLN laboratories tested 23,928 swine for the PRV diagnostic laboratory stream in FY 2012 and 18,075 to date in FY 2013.  Information on feral swine serologic submissions tested for PRV by selected NAHLN laboratories can be found in the article titled "Wildlife Services' Surveillance and Emergency Response."



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 competing for feed with domestic cattle in New Mexico

Photo Courtesy of Justin Stevenson 


The charts below show the number of feral swine samples tested during Federal fiscal year (FY) 2012 and mid (FY) 2013 (October 1, 2012 - May 30, 2013) for classical swine fever (CSF), pseudorabies virus (PRV), swine brucellosis (SB), and swine influenza virus (SIV).   Testing for PRV and SIV (nasal swabs) was conducted by NAHLN laboratories, and CSF testing by the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, College Station, TX and NVSL's FADDL in Plum Island, NY.  SB testing was conducted by the Veterinary Services Laboratory in Frankfort, KY, the Kansas Brucella Laboratory, Topeka, KS, and at NVSL's Diagnostic Bacteriology Laboratory, Ames, IA.





Volume 5, No. 1 WS PRV 


Volume 5, No. 1 WS SB 

  Volume 5, No. 1 WS SIV



Article and chart data submitted by Thomas DeLiberto, PhD, DVM, Assistant Director, National Wildlife Research Center, USDA APHIS WS, Fort Collins, CO


Changes to the NAHLN Information Technology (IT) System


Over the last year, we have been working on a number of changes to the NAHLN IT system.  This includes transitioning to a Laboratory Messaging Services (LMS) that is more flexible and can accommodate Health Level 7® (HL7) messages for multiple diseases.  Electronic messages for influenza A virus in swine (IAV-S) have been successfully messaged and managed in the test phases and will be open to all laboratories that perform USDA IAV-S surveillance within the next month.  In the next phases of development, LMS will be integrated with other IT systems within Veterinary Services (VS), including the Emergency Management Response System (EMRS), Version 2.0 and the Veterinary Services Laboratory Submission (VSLS) system.  We are also working with the folks at the Cornell University Animal Health Diagnostic Center to integrate with and support their efforts in implementing the State Animal Laboratory Messaging Services-a router designed to allow for electronic messaging between laboratories.


All VS IT systems are also moving to the National Information Technology Center (NITC) this year.  This effort requires quite a bit of preparation, testing, and work in the transition of these systems on the part of the VS Office of the Chief Information Officer.  We ask that users be patient with any outages during this time of transition.  We are hoping to minimize the impact as much as possible.


Article submitted by Sarah Tomlinson, VMO, NAHLN Coordinator, USDA APHIS VS NVSL, Fort Collins, CO



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 Update.

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
IAV-S 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 5, No. 1 Acronym Key 


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