UK Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center Attains National Accreditation

For the past five years, the University of Kentucky Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center (LDDC) has worked toward attaining national accreditation. All the hard work paid off as the center recently received its certificate of full accreditation from the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians for all species.

The center's director and epidemiology professor, Craig Carter, DVM, PhD, said the accreditation will allow the center to better serve the people of Kentucky and beyond.

"This is our gold star," he said. "It elevates our status and also enhances the way those in the agricultural industry view us. It also enhances our international reputation. It means others can be confident that when we run a test, the results are reliable, accurate, and repeatable in other labs in this country and in other countries as well."

Carter said with accreditation comes the opportunity to join the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The network strengthens the United States' defense against large-scale foreign animal disease outbreaks and provides a way to track such threats should they become an issue.

"We would be a part of a national strategy to coordinate our work with all organizations that provide animal disease surveillance and testing services," Carter said. "Being part of that network will also allow us to compete for grants we can use to purchase equipment that will make our lab even better."

"The College of Agriculture is very proud that the LDDC has accomplished this milestone, and we recognize the assistance of many stakeholders who helped us plan the new facility and hire new staff, including Dr. Carter," said Nancy Cox, MS, PhD, associate dean for research for the UK College of Agriculture and director of the Kentucky Agriculture Experiment Station. "In particular, we appreciate the confidence of our elected officials in the General Assembly for the building project, as this was critical to achieving accreditation."

Although thrilled about the accreditation, Carter emphasized the team effort of the process.

"It's definitely not something I did on my own," he said. "Everyone in this lab had a part in it. They worked tirelessly preparing us for the accreditation process. This is something for everyone to be proud of."

David Switzer, executive director of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, quoting past U.S. President Harry S. Truman, said, "It's amazing what you can achieve when you don't care who gets the credit.

"This is exactly the approach everyone involved in the accreditation process took," Switzer continued. "From securing the funding from the General Assembly to renovate the lab, to becoming accredited, and now through implementing an integrated reporting system--all of this allows the lab to be able to fulfill its role of providing the quality of service the Kentucky livestock industry deserves."

The lab has put a lot of effort over the past two years into developing and testing software for a laboratory information management system (LIMS). The newly implemented system will offer advanced electronic reporting capabilities that can get test results to veterinarians virtually within seconds.

Carter said it's a powerful tool for early identification and for tracking and managing disease outbreaks or even in responding to agroterrorist attacks.

Because of the Bluegrass state's signature horse industry, the LDDC currently has the largest equine necropsy caseload in the United States.

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