A new report from the National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense (FAZD) at Texas A&M University identifies a number of priorities for developing the next generation of disease-screening tools for livestock, milk and other products.

The report is based on data compiled from U.S. agricultural industry leaders and top scientists specializing in contagious animal diseases.

“This collaboration between industry, science and policy marks a significant step toward developing and utilizing screening technologies for high consequence disease detection,” says Tammy Beckham, director of the FAZD Center. “To best meet the needs of our end-users and stakeholders, new screening tools should fit easily into day-to-day business operations and support business continuity during an outbreak situation.”

The report, “Enhancing Ag Resiliency: the Agricultural Industry Perspective of Utilizing Agricultural Screening Tools,” is available at http://fazd.tamu.edu/?p=2408.

The report is the result of a recent workshop convened by the Department of Homeland Security and the FAZD Center. Those participating included foreign animal and emerging disease diagnostic experts from the United States and the United Kingdom, plus leaders from the nation’s beef, dairy, pork, poultry, sheep and goat industries.

The workshop was the second in a series of collaborative discussions on the development and deployment of agricultural screening tools. Participants defined some priorities such as:

  • Develop agricultural screening tools that can be used to permit movement of animals that do not exhibit clinical signs of disease and associated animal products, especially during an outbreak or recovery period.
  • Validate assays currently being used for testing, such as polymerase chain reaction and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, for use with additional matrices, including milk, oral fluids (such as from saliva-drenched ropes), meat juice, air and environmental samples and blood, especially for testing for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) virus.
  • Validate pooling of samples to test for foreign animal diseases, including pooling of swabs for key poultry diseases and FMD detection.
  • Develop simple, low-cost, devices to be used in the field for nucleic acid extraction and/or amplification.
  • Develop and validate serological tests for “disease free” testing and developed related policies for using those tests.

Among the 40 participants were representatives from the National Pork Board, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Agricultural Research Service, the Texas and California animal health groups and cattle and dairy groups.