Mobile Laboratory To Protect Pennsylvania Against Animal Diseases

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Animal Diseases

To respond more quickly to potentially dangerous animal health emergencies, the Department of Agriculture has begun using a new mobile laboratory.

"Pennsylvania is in the forefront of addressing animal health issues," Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff said. "By working diligently to avoid potential outbreaks, we also are protecting our human food supply so people can to continue to enjoy safe, high-quality foods.

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"An outbreak would be disastrous to Pennsylvania's economy and our agricultural producers due to trade and marketing opportunities that would be closed," Wolff said. "This mobile unit will help the department act quickly and efficiently should a dangerous situation occur."

As part of the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System, the mobile laboratory has a bio-safety Level-3 (BSL-3) containment space, meaning its air handling system prevents the escape of any pathogens that could endanger humans or animals. In addition, it is equipped with a showering facility, bio-safety cabinets, refrigerators and freezers, and decontamination equipment. The laboratory is being fitted with other testing instruments to offer a rapid diagnosis for other animal diseases like avian influenza, foot and mouth disease or mad cow disease, among others.

The mobile unit was purchased with an emergency health preparedness grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. The Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Animal Health & Diagnostic Services works closely with both groups to stay on the leading edge of animal disease research and prevention.

The bureau is responsible for the control and eradication of diseases in livestock and poultry, which affect human health or cause significant economic loss to farmers. It also administers regulatory programs for animal health certification, containment of diseased animals and elimination of disease agents. Together with regulatory inspections and testing programs, the bureau uses public outreach and educational programs to ensure that Pennsylvania residents consume foods that meet the highest standards.

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