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Wisconsin Poultry Producers and Interstate Movement to Iowa

LPAI Testing for Wisconsin Poultry Producers and Interstate Movement to Iowa

Purpose: The State of Iowa requires serology and PCR testing for avian influenza prior to interstate movement from Wisconsin. WVDL is setting up special testing for Wisconsin poultry producers to facilitate this movement.

Iowa is currently requiring permits for poultry and poultry products from Wisconsin to Iowa and if there are any questions, they should contact Iowa.

Here is a link to their web site:


Test logistics at WVDL:

  1. Serology for antibody: WVDL has the NPIP-approved test for antibody (AGID). This test is performed at the Barron Laboratory ONLY, is a 24-hour test and is set up at 2pm Mon-Thurs.
  2. PCR for virus nucleic acid: WVDL has the NPIP-approved test for AI PCR. This test is performed at the Madison Laboratory ONLY and will be set up on Mon-Fri, once per day, as special runs during the required testing period.

a. Samples must be dropped off in Madison by 10am for same day results for movement of animals the following day (8AM) to fit the requirement of 24 hours from sampling of animals to shipment. Depending on location in Wisconsin, overnight UPS shipping may be allowed for PCR testing. This will increase time to maximum of 36 hours from sampling of birds to shipment and PRODUCERS MUST contact the Iowa State Veterinarian’s office for prior approval.  Dr. David Schmitt (515) 281-8601.

b. Each PCR test (up to 11 swabs per test) will have an expedited testing fee added.

c. Please call ahead for testing so we can be prepared to accommodate your testing needs to the best of our ability.

d. Any NPIP-approved laboratory can be used for PCR testing.  The Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic lab is the next available option. Minnesota runs  PCR Mon-Fri and samples must arrive by 8am.

Testing supplies:

1. Testing supplies can be ordered at Under the drop-down menu from “Submission Guidelines,” click on “Forms” and “Avian Swab Kit for PCR Order Form.”

b.  Directly under the link to this form is a video that demonstrates swabbing birds.

i. NOTE: Testing has been updated since the production of this video and NPIP now allows up to 11 swabs per tube.

2. Shipping labels can be ordered and emailed for $7 overnight ground UPS. See our website for details:

3. Testing and shipping supply orders can be taken over the phone, by fax, or by emailing completed forms to See our website for phone and fax numbers.

UW Identifies Flu Strain Affecting NYC Shelter Cats as H7N2 Influenza

CONTACT: Sandra Newbury, 608-335-2122,

UW Identifies Flu Strain Affecting NYC Shelter Cats as H7N2 Influenza

MADISON – The Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has identified the influenza A strain involved in an outbreak among cats in a New York City animal shelter as low pathogenic avian influenza H7N2, a rare subtype that has not been found previously in domestic felines.

The Shelter Medicine Program at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine is working closely with New York City’s Manhattan Animal Care Center (ACC-Manhattan) and the New York City Health Department to manage the situation, which includes establishing a quarantine facility while the Manhattan center is disinfected.

Cats that have contracted the H7N2 strain in the shelter have displayed upper respiratory symptoms such as runny nose, congestion, persistent cough and lip smacking, but the illness has not been severe. One cat was euthanized after developing pneumonia. No other species of animals from the shelter, including dogs, have tested positive for the virus.

“While we are concerned about this new infection, the cats are experiencing only mild to moderate illness, but a few have developed pneumonia,” says Sandra Newbury, clinical assistant professor at the veterinary school and director of the UW Shelter Medicine Program. “Many of the cats who were initially ill are already recovering. We do want people to be aware of what is happening, but influenza infection is unlikely in cats that have not had contact with cats from New York City’s Manhattan Animal Care Center.”

The first cases of influenza at the shelter were reported in late November when a private company, IDEXX Reference Laboratories, tested sick cats housed at ACC-Manhattan. The shelter then approached the UW Shelter Medicine Program and WVDL for more assistance since both helped manage outbreaks of a different strain of influenza that affected dogs and cats in the Midwest earlier this year and in 2015.

Further testing at WVDL found additional positive samples and led to identification of the H7N2 strain, a finding that has been verified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories. The California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory at the University of California, Davis also confirmed the presence of H7N2 influenza virus after IDEXX provided samples to that lab for testing.

“This is the first time H7N2 has been detected and transmitted among domestic cats,” says Kathy Toohey-Kurth, clinical professor and head of the WVDL’s virology section.

Several cases of H7N2 were found in commercial poultry in the United States between 2000 and 2006, and it may be able to spread to other animals. There have been only two cases of H7N2 found in humans, and both cases ended with full recovery. The virus is thought to pose low risk to people. No human infections related to this case have been identified to date.

While influenza infection is unlikely in cats that have not had contact with infected felines from the shelter, owners whose animals show signs of influenza should contact their veterinarian for instructions. Cats suspected to be infected with the virus should be housed separately from other animals and precautions should be taken to prevent spread of the virus on hands and clothing.

“We’ll continue to work with the shelter to help manage the case and offer testing to any cats in rescue groups that are affected,” says Newbury. “We are hoping that offering this kind of diagnostic support will help rescue groups identify if they have cats with the virus so they can isolate them in order to stop the spread.”

Diagnostic testing conducted by the WVDL for animals that have come from the New York City shelter since Nov. 12 will be paid for by a generous gift from Maddie’s Fund, a family foundation that seeks to “revolutionize the status and well-being of companion animals.”

Shelters and rescue groups may contact the UW Shelter Medicine Program at with testing inquiries or questions regarding influenza in cats and dogs, and can look for updates at More details about the program’s partnership to provide diagnostic testing for shelters can be found on its diagnostic testing webpage.

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-Nik Hawkins,, 608-263-6914

Increased Awareness for Multi-drug Resistant Salmonella Heidelberg Infections

Notice of Increased Awareness for Multi-drug Resistant Salmonella enterica subspecies enterica serotype Heidelberg

High zoonotic potential for farm workers, especially children

Recently, the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (WVDL), the Wisconsin Division of Public Health (DPH), the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been tracking a multi-drug resistant (MDR) strain of Salmonella enterica subspecies enterica serotype Heidelberg (Group B).  The reason for this close collaboration is the strong connection between human infections and recent bull calf purchases.  The purpose of this communication is to educate the veterinary community of the risk these MDR Salmonella Heidelberg pose to both cattle and people, provide testing options for diagnosis, and disinfection recommendations.

Currently, there are twelve confirmed human infections from seven Wisconsin counties in 2016. The median age for Wisconsin residents with Salmonella Heidelberg infections is 7 years old, and four individuals were hospitalized.  Upon interview, greater than 90% of the infected individuals reported purchasing Holstein bull calves from livestock dealers or sales barns. Many of these calves died shortly after becoming ill.  During 2015 and 2016, the WVDL has isolated several MDR Salmonella Heidelberg isolates from calves located in mostly Wisconsin, but isolation has also occurred from calves located outside of Wisconsin during 2015 and 2016.  Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing of 2016 isolates indicates that the human and bovine Salmonella Heidelberg isolates are very closely related, and may share a common source.  This strain of Salmonella Heidelberg is highly pathogenic and multi-drug resistant; only one antimicrobial drug is an effective treatment option for human cases and no effective options exist for cattle.  Individuals working with sick pre-weaned calves, particularly bull calves that have been recently purchased, are recommended to adhere to strict biosafety protocols and wash hands, change clothing, and clean affected areas and items frequently.  Children and immunocompromised individuals should limit their access to calves with diarrhea.  Additionally, any human diarrheal illnesses should be seen by a physician and reported to DPH if salmonellosis is confirmed.

Veterinarians suspecting salmonellosis, particularly infection caused by Salmonella Heidelberg, should submit fecal samples for Salmonella culture and/or PCR to the WVDL.  Results for confirmation of Salmonella are within 24-72 hours with serotyping taking an additional 24-72 hours.  Fecal samples should be collected in a leak-proof vial rather than glove, Whirl pack, or bag as these are more likely to leak.  Culture-positive Salmonella isolates will be serotyped and Salmonella Heidelberg isolates will be subject to antimicrobial susceptibility testing to confirm MDR status. WVDL staff veterinarians will contact submitting veterinarians upon isolation of this MDR Salmonella Heidelberg to discuss herd health, provide cleaning and disinfection recommendations and supply the veterinarians with an interview questionnaire to be filled out.

Cleaning and disinfection is absolutely necessary after confirmation of Salmonella as the cause of calf diarrhea or adult enteric disease.  This is particularly important for this particular MDR Salmonella strain, given the human and bovine health implications and lack of antimicrobials available.  Reinfection on the affected premise is highly likely and has been detected with this outbreak; therefore, it is highly recommended to perform environmental testing for Salmonella.  The WVDL has kits specific to this type of testing and cleaning and disinfection protocols that producers can use.

The WVDL, DATCP and DPH would like to increase surveillance for MDR Salmonella Heidelberg and encourages veterinarians to submit diagnostic samples when possible.  Veterinarians, please encourage producers to submit samples from suspect animals, particularly pre-weaned dairy calves that were recently purchased and die suddenly and unexpectedly.  Other state veterinary diagnostic laboratories have been notified of this outbreak and are prepared to culture diagnostic samples for Salmonella.  Salmonella Group B or Heidelberg isolates will be submitted to NVSL for PFGE and whole genome sequencing.  Cooperation between Wisconsin veterinarians, producers, and the human and animal health officials should reduce the incidence rates of salmonellosis in both humans and animals.

For more information please contact the following authorities:

Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at 608-262-5432 and or The WVDL will respond to requests within 24-48 hours during the work week.

Wisconsin Division of Public Health at 608-267-7143 and

Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection at 608-224-5012


Optimize Your Diagnostic Testing Using The Best Transport Media

PCR testingOptimize your diagnostic testing with the best media for sample transport


Transport MediaTo maximize the diagnostic potential of your diagnostic samples, the WVDL recommends using M6 viral transport media (red arrow) or sterile saline for any PCR testing.  Samples should be sent on ice overnight to WVDL using our low-cost UPS shipping. Aimes charcoal (yellow arrow) and Porta-cul agar gel media are best used for culture and antimicrobial sensitivity testing but in general, bacterial culture transport systems have inhibitory substances that may interfere with PCR testing.  Aimes and all other bacterial culture medias will NO LONGER be accepted for PCR tests.

It is also important to remember that wood and cotton swabs are not appropriate for PCR because they are manufactured with bleach, which damages nucleic acid.  Use polyester or Dacron with plastic sticks.  Please see our website to order media and collection supplies.

Wisconsin Canine Influenza Cases by County for 2016

Wisconsin CIV PCR Positive Cases by County

The PDFs below indicate which counties in Wisconsin had confirmed Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) cases in each of the first three months of 2016.  To date, only three counties in Wisconsin have reported CIV cases.




Canine Influenza Virus Found in Cats


 The following article is a re-print of one posted earlier this week on the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) website.  The SVM’s Dr. Sandra Newbury and WVDL’s Dr. Kathy Toohey-Kurth have recently found a group of cats from an Indiana animal shelter to be infected with the canine influenza virus (CIV).   The complete article follows.


UW Shelter Medicine, WVDL find canine influenza transmitted to cats in Midwestern shelter

CONTACT: Sandra Newbury, 608-335-2122,

MADISON – It may be called canine influenza, but Sandra Newbury, clinical assistant professor and director of the Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine has confirmed that the virus that sickened a large number of dogs in the Midwest last year has now infected a group of cats in the region.

Newbury, in collaboration with Kathy Toohey-Kurth, virology section head at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, recently tested multiple cats at an animal shelter in Northwest Indiana and found them positive for the H3N2 canine influenza virus.

“Suspicions of an outbreak in the cats were initially raised when a group of them displayed unusual signs of respiratory disease,” Newbury says. “While this first confirmed report of multiple cats testing positive for canine influenza in the U.S. shows the virus can affect cats, we hope that infections and illness in felines will continue to be quite rare.”

Feline cases previously reported in South Korea suggested that the virus – which was not seen in the U.S. until 2015 – was capable of making the leap from dogs to cats. However, just one cat tested positive for H3N2 on a single occasion in the U.S. last year. In that case, no repeated sampling was done because the sample was not known to be positive until long after the cat’s symptoms had resolved.

It now appears the virus can replicate and spread from cat to cat.

“Sequential sampling of these individual cats have shown repeated positives and an increase in viral loads over time,” Toohey-Kurth says, referring to the amount of virus found in any given sample.

Preliminary work to study the genetic signature of the virus shows it to be identical to the H3N2 virus that infects dogs. Researchers at WVDL are currently completing a full genetic analysis and study of the virus.

Newbury and the UW Shelter Medicine team are working closely with the animal shelter to manage the influenza outbreak. A number of dogs at the shelter have also tested positive for the virus.

“At this time, all of the infected cats have been quarantined, and no infected cats or dogs have left this shelter,” Newbury says.  “We will continue to watch carefully for instances of the disease.”

Cats that have contracted the virus in the shelter have displayed upper respiratory symptoms such as runny nose, congestion and general malaise, as well as lip smacking and excessive salivation. Symptoms have resolved quickly, and so far, the virus has not been fatal in cats.

Infected dogs may develop a persistent cough, runny nose and fever. Some dogs will show no symptoms, while others exhibit more severe signs of illness. The virus has been linked to some deaths in dogs, but most dogs recover with supportive care.

Dogs and cats infected with canine influenza virus should be housed separately from other animals and precautions should be taken to prevent spread of the virus on hands and clothing.

An H3N2 vaccine is now available for dogs, but no vaccine is currently approved or recommended for cats. A veterinarian can recommend whether or not to seek an H3N2 canine influenza vaccine for dogs.

Visit the WVDL website for more information about sampling and testing for canine influenza.  Shelters can also contact the UW Shelter Medicine Program with testing inquiries or questions regarding canine influenza. More details about the program’s partnership to provide diagnostic testing for shelters can be found here.

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— Ashley Voss,, 608-262-3425

Canine Influenza Cases Confirmed in Wisconsin



Photo courtesy of SPCA

Wisconsin Dog owners should be aware that several canine influenza virus (CIV) cases have been confirmed in Wisconsin since the beginning of the year.

This virus is very easily spread and respiratory symptoms can persist for up to 3 weeks.  In some dogs these symptoms may be severe, leading to pneumonia and hospitalization.

Through participation in the National Canine Influenza Taskforce, the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has been able to confirm the following information regarding canine influenza (CIV) activity in Wisconsin in the first three months of 2016:


January 2016

  • 6 cases of H3N2 in Racine by PCR
  • 1 case of H3N2 in Milwaukee by PCR
  • 1 case of H3N2 in Green Bay by PCR

February 2016

  • 3  confirmed H3N2 cases in the Green Bay area and 1 in Racine tested by PCR
  • 10 cases in Green Bay with serological positive results indicative of past exposure to H3N2

March 2016

  • 3 cases in Green Bay with serological positive results indicative of past exposure to H3N2


Quick reference for small animal practitioners can be found here:

The WVDL, along with multiple other veterinary diagnostic laboratories can perform CIV testing from nasal swabs.  It is important that the swabs are NOT cotton or have wood sticks.

If viral media is not available, please submit the swab in 1 ml of sterile saline. At the WVDL, CIV testing can be done as a single test or as part of a respiratory panel. If positive for CIV, the virus will be typed to determine if it is H3N2 or H3N8.


Please contact us at any time with questions and see our website for submission details:

We will send out additional information as laboratories report their results to the Taskforce.


WVDL collaborates with DNR on unexplained elk deaths

WVDL collaborates with DNR on unexplained elk deaths


photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) is undertaking an effort to reintroduce elk to the central part of the state and to supplement the current herd in Clam Lake.  The reintroduction effort is headed by the WDNR and multiple partner organizations. The elk originate from a stable population in Kentucky and this year were moved to, and will ultimately be released in, the central forest region in Jackson County.

In January of 2015, WDNR and Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife staff captured and started the health testing and quarantine process to relocate the elk to Wisconsin. The team provided constant oversight of husbandry and animal health, drawing upon previous experience moving elk to other states, such as Missouri and Virginia, from Kentucky.

With heightened awareness and measures to minimize stress, which is very important when handling wildlife, 26 elk arrived safety to a specially built quarantine pen in Jackson County on March 26th, 2015.  The elk all appeared well for the first three weeks they were in Wisconsin, but the next week, five animals died acutely.  In total, four calves and one cow had died and their bodies transported to WVDL. The gross necropsy offered little evidence for the cause of death with exception of one of the animals that had gross findings consistent with a hemolytic disease process. Drs. Melissa Behr, Christine Watson, Raman Muthuswamy, and Phil Bochsler all worked on the cases.

Extensive diagnostic testing in the virology, bacteriology, and combined molecular biology sections were inconclusive. Through a collaborative effort with Dr. Pat Holman Laboratory at Texas A&M and the Vector Borne Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at North Carolina State University, Babesia odocoilei was diagnosed.  This pathogen is a protozoan parasite that infects red blood cells and is spread by ticks.

The red blood cell parasite has been previously reported in North American elk in multiple states and the white tailed deer is considered its predominant reservoir. In Wisconsin, it has been identified in captive elk and reindeer as well as ticks. Treatment is possible, but not straightforward and the next challenge for the elk team and WDNR wildlife veterinarian, Dr. Lindsey Long, is evaluating individual elk susceptibility and appropriate management strategies in a population destined to be free-ranging in the forests of Wisconsin.

To read more about the WDNR’s effort to reintroduce elk into Jackson County, Wisconsin click here:

Diagnostic Submission Guidelines for Enteric Disease

Diagnostic Submission Guidelines: Enteric Disease        

Dr. Donald Sockett Veterinary Microbiologist DVM, Univ. of Guelph, 1981 PhD, Univ. of Wisconsin, 1991 Diplomate, A.C.V.I.M.

Dr. Donald Sockett
Veterinary Microbiologist
DVM, Univ. of Guelph, 1981
PhD, Univ. of Wisconsin, 1991
Diplomate, A.C.V.I.M.

Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
December, 2014
by Dr. Donald Sockett

The best samples are those that are collected within 4-8 hours of the animal’s death. Delays in sample collection decrease the probability of obtaining useful diagnostic information. Veterinarians should submit both fresh and formalin fixed tissues from any organ that has gross lesions. See chart below for information on tissue types and how tissues should be collected and submitted to WVDL.

*Since the formalin jars tend to leak; please place the formalin jar inside a Ziploc® bag. If it is not possible to place the tissues in formalin at the time of sample collection, WVDL staff will do it for you. Please keep in mind the tissue samples will be more autolyzed and less diagnostic for histopathology when formalin fixation is delayed. A 2 x 2 x 1 cm piece of tissue from all the organs listed below should be placed in formalin. The ratio should be 9 parts formalin to 1 part tissue for proper fixation. The WVDL recommends using a 16-ounce wide-mouthed jar that contains 8 ounces of 10% buffered formalin (Fischer catalog # 23-426-797).








Shipping Requirements

  • Veterinarians should completely fill out the WVDL General Submission Form which includes the age of the animal.  An electronic copy is available at Click on the forms link to download the submission form.
  • The laboratory should receive the samples within 24-36 hours. See our website for discounted, expedited shipping options.
  • Package the samples with a sufficient number of ice packs to ensure they remain cold during shipment.
  • Clients should schedule shipments to avoid weekend and holiday delivery of samples to the laboratory.


WVDL Staff Member Leads the Way in Electron Microscopy

Craig Radi and the WVDL are National Leaders in Transmission Electron Microscopy

WVDL senior microbiologist Craig Radi started the only TEM proficiency program in the United States about seven years ago.  Now there are 18 labs participating Radiacross the nation including labs in Hawaii and provinces in Canada. In 2013, Craig presented a poster about the program at the Microscopy and Microanalysis Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Due to the high praise and encouragement from the publication, the poster was adapted into a publication in Microscopy Today.  Our hats are off to Craig and the WVDL team members, Dr. Kathy Kurth and Audrey Dikkeboom, and Dr. Sara Miller at Duke University who made this all possible.

The article, entitled ‘Keeping Up Electron Microscopy Diagnostic Skills in a PCR World’,  can be found here:

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