VMDL Clinical Instructor Rosalie Ierardi, DVM, MS, offers insights into the importance of postmortem diagnostics and how we can partner with local veterinarians to serve producers.
A Message from the Director
Welcome to the MU VMDL Spring 2022 Newsletter! First, I would like to introduce our newest anatomical pathologist, Annabelle Burnum-Looney, DVM. Dr. Burnum received her BA degree from Washington University in St. Louis and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. After completing a residency program at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, she taught veterinary pathology at Tufts University. We are excited to have Dr. Burnum as a part of our team!
We have made giant strides in chronic wasting disease (CWD) diagnosis and research. From November 2021 to March 2022, the VMDL tested more than 30,000 wild deer CWD samples. We have been collaborating with five other diagnostic labs and the MU College of Engineering to develop new CWD diagnostic assays and tools such as RT-QuIC and MEM Biosensor. To support the captive cervid industry, we offer CWD IHC on captive cervid samples.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza has been confirmed in 34 states, including Missouri. On March 3, the VMDL detected the first case of HPAI (H5/N1) in a flock of commercial broiler chickens in Stoddard County, Missouri. Since then, the VMDL has been testing samples from commercial flocks and wild birds. To complete the testing on the same day, our Molecular Diagnostics faculty and staff frequently work late evenings and weekends. We are so proud of them!
Finally, the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians Accreditation Site Visit Team audited the VMDL from May 1 to May 4. I am cautiously optimistic that we will be accredited again.
As always, your feedback is important to us because the VMDL is here to serve all of you and the state of Missouri. Stay cool and safe!
Dr. Shuping Zhang
Director, Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory
Professor, Department of Veterinary Pathobiology
It’s Tick Season!
With the recent warm weather, Missouri’s ticks are alive and well in the tall grass. With these important vectors out questing for a blood meal, the diseases they transmit will be on the rise. The MU VMDL offers several testing options for tick-borne diseases in veterinary patients.
PCR Tick Panel* (EDTA blood): Anaplasma spp., Borrelia burgdorferi, Ehrlichia spp., and Rickettsia spp.
Tick Panel Titer IFA* (Serum or clotted blood): Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Borrelia burgdorferi, Ehrlichia canis, and Rickettsia rickettsii.
*Note: any of the pathogens listed can be tested for individually.
Since positive titers can indicate previous exposure and not necessarily active infection, PCR is often the better choice to make a diagnosis in a clinically ill patient. However, paired titers can be used to diagnose active infection and should be considered if the patient has already been treated with antimicrobials prior to testing.
The VMDL also offers Anaplasma marginale testing by PCR and ELISA. Anaplasmosis continues to be an important disease of Missouri’s beef cattle. Our own Dr. Rosalie Ierardi has an ongoing research project in this area of study. If you or your clients are interested in participating, free ELISA testing for up to 15 head per herd is available. A simple questionnaire must be completed to take advantage of the free testing. Please contact Dr. Ierardi at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
VMDL Policy Update: Owner Pre-Payment
Starting Monday May 23, 2022, the Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (VMDL) will require a completed payment agreement form and an accompanying $60 pre-payment deposit to receive and provide diagnostic testing services on owner-submitted accessions. Note: this policy will not affect billing practices for our veterinary clients, however, please help us educate owners who drop off directly at the VMDL.
VMDL will provide owners with an invoice upon completion of diagnostic accession work. The pre-payment balance will be applied toward the total invoice balance. Any remaining balance must be paid to the VMDL within 30 days of the invoice date.
For questions about this new policy, please contact the VMDL business office.
Avian Influenza Update
The MU VMDL Molecular Section continues to collaborate with our regulatory partners at USDA and MDA to provide accurate and timely test results for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). To date, there have been nine affected premises in our state.
Confirmed detections and numbers of birds affected (by state) can be found here.
To continue reading about the outbreak in Missouri poultry and the VMDL’s role, click here.
Just a reminder that the VMDL can supply your clinic with packaging and shipping items, as well as media and swabs for molecular and bacteriology testing. For a complete list of the supplies available and current pricing, please reference the current version of our order form, which can be found on our website.
Unfortunately, FedEx has imposed limits on the number of FedEx Clinical Paks they will provide us. As a result, we must limit your orders of FedEx Clinical Paks to 10 per order, to ensure adequate supply for all. We apologize for the inconvenience.v
Starting Monday May 23, 2022, the Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (VMDL) will require a completed payment agreement form and an accompanying $60.00 pre-payment deposit in order to receive and provide diagnostic testing services on owner submitted accessions.
VMDL will provide clients with an invoice upon completion of diagnostic accession work. The pre-payment balance will be applied toward the total invoice balance. Any remaining balance must be paid to the VMDL within 30 days of the invoice date.
We thank you for your business!
MU Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab helps identify avian influenza among Missouri poultry.
Throughout the country, an extremely infectious disease called highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been circulating rapidly among flocks of chicken and turkeys.While the disease poses little risk to humans, it presents a serious threat to infected birds as well as the nation’s poultry industry, which is already facing supply chain disruptions.
At the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, the Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (VMDL) is on the frontlines, tracking the disease and alerting veterinary officials to confirmed cases of the virus in poultry. When the first presumed HPAI case turned up on March 3 in Stoddard County, Missouri, MU’s VMDL ran the test.
“Missouri ranks in the top 10 of broiler production and is also an important source for egg production and turkeys,” said Daniel Shaw, a professor emeritus of veterinary pathobiology and a researcher at MU’s VMDL. “Our ultimate goals are to keep animals healthy, support the agriculture and farming industries in Missouri, and help poultry producers monitor their flocks by quickly testing for suspected cases.”
During the last outbreak of HPAI in 2015, the virus affected flocks throughout the country, resulting in almost $3 billion in economic impacts and the deaths of an estimated 50 million birds. This year, it has already been found in 23 states and nearly 17 million birds, leading to entire flocks being euthanized in an effort to limit the spread of the virus, as well as an increase in egg and chicken prices at grocery stores.
“When birds present signs of possible infection, such as decreased eating or drinking, they are given throat-swab PCR tests, similar to those performed to screen for COVID-19,” Shaw said. “These samples are sent to our VMDL here in Columbia, where we work to process the samples to provide results to the poultry producers, often in less than four hours.”
MU’s VMDL, led by Shuping Zhang, a professor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, performed more than 162,000 diagnostic tests in 2021 for a range of animal diseases, including chronic wasting disease in deer and African swine fever in pigs. The efforts have helped protect both animal health and the agriculture and farming industries, which are critical to Missouri’s economy.
Shaw explained wild waterfowl act as carriers of HPAI, producing and shedding large amounts of the virus in nasal secretions and fecal material.
“The virus is preserved by cool, moist conditions and protected by mucus and fecal material,” Shaw said. “It can easily infect poultry flocks, particularly those that are free-range or in small, backyard populations.”
Since people and equipment are common means of transmission of the virus between farms, strong bio-security strategies are encouraged, including feed delivery trucks unloading from outside farms and requiring those entering to put on clean shoes and protective suits.
“In the weeks and months ahead, we will continue tracking HPAI and supporting farmers navigating the challenges brought on by this outbreak,” Shaw said. “We are simply doing our part to keep animals healthy, help poultry producers and support our state’s vital agriculture industry.”