The Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, TVMDL, is the newest member of the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network, Vet-LIRN.
Vet-LIRN is an international network of veterinary diagnostic laboratories developed to assist the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, CVM, with large-scale investigations of CVM-regulated products, such as animal feed and drugs.
Vet-LIRN’s dedication to investigation and response falls in line with several services TVMDL offers at its College Station and Amarillo locations.
“The focus of the Vet-LIRN is surveillance for problems in animal feeds and animal drugs,” said Bruce Akey, DVM, TVMDL director, College Station. “These are a small subset of the larger surveillance effort TVMDL carries on every day— an effort that relies on the comprehensive subject matter expertise and capabilities of the agency.”
In addition to performing routine tests specific to the needs of Vet-LIRN, TVMDL offers the network an additional level of expertise and testing capability.
“TVMDL brings its extensive subject matter expertise and physical capabilities in toxicology, pathology and microbiology along with one of the largest caseload volumes in the nation,” Akey said. “TVMDL serves as a reference center for other state laboratories for some relevant tests. Therefore, its addition to the Vet-LIRN means surveillance increases not just for one state, but many.”
Vet-LIRN was partly established as a response to the 2007 pet food recall due to melamine contamination. During this event, the FDA recognized the need for rapid communication with veterinary diagnostic laboratories and the capacity to test large volumes of animal-related samples suspected of adulteration or contamination by feed or drugs.
Although similar government investigation laboratories exist, Vet-LIRN members serve a unique purpose in their ability to diagnose feed and drug adverse events by testing samples outside the limitations of food testing laboratories.
For example, laboratories within Vet-LIRN can test samples like non-typical animal feed, blood, tissue and other anatomic samples, whereas food laboratories cannot. Examining animal-related samples, such as those tested in Vet-LIRN member laboratories, has proven to be essential in the early detection of adulteration or contamination.
Since its development, Vet-LIRN laboratories have assisted with numerous nationwide investigations. Most recently, the network assisted with investigating reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs eating certain pet foods. Other notable investigations include cases of dogs developing hyperthyroidism from eating certain foods, illnesses related to jerky treats and a large-scale investigation into pentobarbital found in canned dog food.
In addition to furthering TVMDL’s impact, joining Vet-LIRN will bring other benefits to the agency. Along with other sections, TVMDL’s analytical chemistry section routinely performs several tests specific to the needs of Vet-LIRN investigations.
“We will have the opportunity to participate in proficiency testing programs to ensure accurate test results, train scientists, and apply for funding to build laboratory capacity for routine and emergency response efforts,” said Travis Mays, Ph.D., analytical chemistry section head, College Station. “This opportunity will further TVMDL’s mission, allowing us to provide the highest level of service to our clients.”
With TVMDL’s acceptance, the agency joins over 40 state and university veterinary diagnostic laboratories across the United States and Canada already within Vet-LIRN.
To learn more about TVMDL’s test offerings, visit their website or call one of the agency’s full-service laboratories in College Station or Amarillo.
This piece was adapted from the original article, written by Mallory Pfeifer, Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory.