The Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) was recently accepted into 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 (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) with large-scale investigations of CVM-regulated products, such as animal feed or drugs.
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 are able to test samples like non-typical animal feed, blood, tissue, and other anatomic samples, whereas food laboratories do not have that ability. 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 (DCM) 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.
Vet-LIRN’s dedication to investigation and response falls in line with several services TVMDL currently offers.
“The focus of the Vet-LIRN is surveillance for problems in animal feeds and animal drugs,” TVMDL Director Bruce Akey, MS, DVM said. “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 routinely performing tests specific to the needs of Vet-LIRN, TVMDL also offers the network an additional level of expertise and testing capability.
“TVMDL brings to the Vet-LIRN 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 actually means surveillance increases not just for one state, but many.”
In addition to furthering TVMDL’s impact, joining Vet-LIRN will also 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,” Analytical Chemistry Section Head Travis Mays, MS, PhD said. “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 tvmdl.tamu.edu or call one of the agency’s full service laboratories in College Station or Amarillo.