HARRISONBURG, Va. – The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) Regional Animal Health Laboratory in Harrisonburg was recently certified to begin testing for the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) virus in animals.
With new capabilities like screening samples sent in from livestock veterinarians in Harrisonburg using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, the lab will be able to perform a valuable early warning function for the detection of Foreign Animal Diseases, including FMD.
These certifications are not easy to come by – all the more reason State Veterinarian Dr. Charles Broaddus says he is proud of the staff in Harrisonburg, whose knowledge and skill made the certification possible.
“Our enhanced ability to detect foreign animal disease quickly will allow us to take measures earlier in our efforts to contain such a disease before it can spread and, therefore, protect this vital segment of agriculture,” he said.
As its name suggests, FMD causes painful blisters around the feet and mouths of affected animals and can spread easily through contact with infected animals. Some other areas of concern for infection are: contaminated farming equipment, vehicles, clothing and feed.
FMD is the one of the most contagious animal diseases in the world and has severe implications for cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.
The U.S. has been free of FMD since 1929, but it exists in many other parts of the world. The new testing capabilities will allow for a much more rapid response, enhanced surveillance and decision making if a detection of FMD did occur in Virginia.
By Vivian Alana Caesar