USDA is in the process of validating a new rapid diagnostic test for seven important and economically devastating animal diseases, including foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). The assay simultaneously tests for bovine viral diarrhea, bovine herpes-1, bovine parapox virus complex, bluetongue, swine vesicular disease and vesicular exanthema of swine.

The Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Lab (VDL) is participating with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, USDA's National Vet Services Labs and the National Animal Health Lab Network and Lawrence Livermore National Lab in developing the new diagnostic tool that reduces the period required to detect the seven diseases -- all with similar symptoms -- from days to hours, and can simultaneously detect all seven diseases in one sample. The tool can provide individual sample results within five hours and allow processing of up to 1,000 samples in 10 hours.

Animal disease experts estimate the U.S. would lose up to $3 million in direct costs for every hour's delay in diagnosing FMD. Typical testing procedures and tools require about 100 hours to process 1,000 samples, and don't allow for simultaneous testing of these diseases, creating a time-consuming testing process.

The assay was developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in partnership with the USDHS (which funded the effort), USDA and the University of California-Davis. CSU's VDL is one of two U.S. labs with the training to use this tool in its high-capacity format, says lab director Barb Powers.
-- Joe Roybal