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Press Releases

April 17, 2023
VDACS Regional Animal Health Laboratories Achieve NAHLN Level One Designation
Contact: Michael Wallace

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) Regional Animal Health Laboratory (RAHL) system has improved its USDA’s National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) designation. The Harrisonburg RAHL obtained Level 1 Laboratory designation and the Wytheville and Lynchburg RAHLs obtained Level 1 Branch laboratories designation. The VDACS animal health laboratory system joins 23 other states in obtaining the highest level NAHLN designation for U.S. state labs.

“Obtaining Level 1 NAHLN laboratory designation is a very significant achievement and recognizes our efforts to strengthen the VDACS laboratory system,” said Joseph Guthrie, Commissioner of VDACS. “I would like to thank our entire laboratory team, led by Dr. Jessica Walters, as this achievement could not be done without their dedication.”

The NAHLN is a network of animal disease diagnostic laboratories that provide ongoing disease surveillance, responds quickly to disease events, communicates diagnostic outcomes to decision makers, and has the capability and capacity to meet diagnostic needs during animal disease outbreaks. Meeting national needs for diagnostic testing for foreign and emerging diseases is a critical responsibility that requires accuracy and timeliness in testing. To ensure confidence in diagnostic test results, both domestically and internationally, the NAHLN implemented the founding principles of quality management standards, standardized testing, competency of laboratory personnel, secure communications, and laboratory preparedness.

“This designation is reserved for laboratories that do the best job in supporting capabilities to be able to rapidly test for foreign animal diseases, among others. In addition, this designation provides the opportunity for a significant increase in annual USDA grant funding,” said Dr. Charles Broaddus, Virginia State Veterinarian. “We are continually making improvements to the laboratory system, including all four facilities, and look forward to continuing to provide the very best service possible to support animal health in the Commonwealth.”

With four modern facilities located throughout the Commonwealth, the VDACS animal health laboratory system provides regulatory and diagnostic testing for veterinarians, food manufacturers, agricultural animal producers, pet owners and other government program areas. The laboratories offer a wide range of services in bacteriology, serology, virology, parasitology, pathology, and molecular testing. The labs perform necropsies, bacteriological cultures, identification and sensitivity testing, hematology, parasitology, and histopathological examination of tissues. Consumers are also protected by the testing of raw milk products, meat and cheese, ice cream and water. Laboratory employees work daily to diagnose livestock and poultry diseases. Keeping in close contact with farmers, veterinarians and state and federal agencies is vital to maintaining surveillance and control of infectious and contagious animal diseases.

For more information on the VDACS animal health laboratory system.

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