Equine Disease Tracking: Kentucky's New System

The University of Kentucky's Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center made a long-awaited switch to a new online file-keeping system known as Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) in early August.

LIMS will serve as an integrated online system for farmers to report incidence of disease by county, and it will correlate with the technology used by the state veterinarian’s office. It will link incoming information from the state veterinarian's office, the Breathitt Veterinary Center at Murray State University, and the LDDC.

The system will help the LDDC track disease reports in near real time--a feature that has not been available before--and prepare for infectious outbreaks or other disease situations, particularly those affecting the state’s equine population. The goal of the new system is to avoid pandemics similar to the mare reproductive loss syndrome occurrences in 2001. While not a contagious disease, MRLS resulted in losses to Kentucky's horse industry of an estimated $340 million and about 30 percent of that season’s Thoroughbred foal crop. By organizing disease incidences by geographic location, scientists and veterinarians can predict trends and get a jump-start on treatments for seasonal illness (such as MRLS was). The system makes information available to farm managers and private practitioners, so they can administer appropriate vaccinations and implement necessary protocols to keep up with any predicted rise in diseases.

LDDC Director Craig Carter, DVM, PhD, Dip. ACVPM, said, "In the short term, it helps to get diagnostic test results down to the farm level in an accurate, timely fashion (to) help the local vet manage single outbreaks. In the long term, it's part of a statewide animal health information network that will give us a broad awareness of what's happening all across the state."

LIMS also will aid in maintaining agricultural biosecurity by detecting potential outbreaks of diseases caused by any previously unidentified pathogens.

The new system will simplify recordkeeping for LDDC and its clients by delivering lab reports and invoices electronically. Carter asks clients to be patient and report any problems they experience as they adjust to the new technology.

For more information contact LDDC at 859/253-0571 or visit www.lddc.uky.edu/.

Natalie Voss is a UK equine intern and undergraduate student in equine science.

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