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Attention WVDL Clients:

Please check your SPAM folder if you aren’t receiving communications from WVDL.  If our communication is being delivered to your SPAM folder in error, please add our email address to your contacts to resolve the issue.  An example of this is, if the results we send to you are going to SPAM, please add a contact called WVDL and put the following email address in the email contacts:

If you have any questions or concerns please contact the WVDL.

Special Bulletin from the WI State Veterinarian on Avian Influenza

Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Provides Information on Protecting your Flocks from Avian Influenza

Stay up-to-date on HPAI in WI. WVDL director Dr. Keith Poulsen shares important information during this interview (3.24.2022). CLICK HERE to see this news brief.

Wisconsin State Veterinarian, Dr. Darlene Konkle, put out the following special bulletin on “Protecting Your Flock from Avian Influenza“. The article is being reposted and included here:

To: Wisconsin poultry producers,

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) continues to pose a threat to the poultry industry globally. Outbreaks have been found in wild and domestic poultry internationally and, more recently, within the United States. Indiana, Kentucky, and Delaware recently experienced outbreaks in commercial flocks; Virginia, New York, Maine, and Michigan experienced outbreaks in backyard flocks. Additionally, the virus has been detected in wild birds throughout the nation.

As the state veterinarian and a representative of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), official state agency of the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP), I strongly encourage producers to move all birds indoors, if possible, to prevent contact with wild birds or their droppings. This will help you do your part to protect the health of your birds and the industry. I also encourage you to review your biosecurity plan and implement the highest level of security possible. You should ensure that feed and water cannot be contaminated by wild birds, such as wild ducks and geese. Helpful links and resources can be found below.

Please report any high increase in mortality or abnormal clinical signs to DATCP at (800) 572-8981. A significant decrease in water consumption has been an early indicator in affected flocks, so we encourage you to monitor this as well. Federal, state, and producer partners must work together to protect our poultry industry. Thank you for your efforts and continued partnership as we face this challenge.

For more information, we encourage you to review the following resources:

Stay up-to-date on HPAI in WI. WVDL director Dr. Keith Poulsen shares important information during this interview (3.24.2022). CLICK HERE to see this news brief.

2021 WVDL Annual Report

The 2021 WVDL Annual Report highlights all of work from our team and where we are going in 2022.  WVDL continues our high level of service for Wisconsin veterinarians and agriculture and collaboration with our public health partners.  We have some exciting projects coming in 2022 and are excited to share our work! Find out more here.

Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL) ELISA Testing

CL ELISA Testing Delays:

The Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL), caused by Corynebacterium pseudotuberulosis, ELISA is backordered and is not expected to arrive till April.  We suspect this is due to pandemic-related staffing and material shortages.  This kit is the only kit available for CL ELISA diagnostics and we have no alternative serology method for testing at the WVDL.  Because of this, we are going to start running the CL ELISA every-other-week to conserve the tests that we do have available.  The first delayed test will be Wednesday, February 2 and then we will be running this ELISA every-other-Wednesday until April.  The WVDL will continue to provide culture for C. pseudotuberulosis daily.  The WVDL thanks you for your patience as we navigate these pandemic-related issues.

**Attention** Updated WVDL Traffic Rerouting

Directions For Traffic Rerouting To The WVDL

There will be continued rerouting and detouring of traffic to the WVDL due to road, parking lot, and new building construction for the University of Wisconsin – Madison Veterinary Medical Hospital (UWVC). Please see the map provided below for flow of traffic to the WVDL. Please know, this new traffic detour to the WVDL provides access to the WVDL by way of Linden Drive. Starting July 9, 2021 Linden Drive between Easterday Lane and Colwood Drive is closed. (Reminder: Easterday Lane between Observatory Drive and Linden Drive is also closed.) The only way to access the WVDL is by using the new temporary bridge connection on Linden Drive. Access to the WVDL will be available off of Linden Drive by way of Walnut Street (west of the WVDL).Thru access behind the Veterinary Medicine building is no longer available. Please be patient and aware of traffic for the safety of all in this busy construction zone. There is detour signage posted to direct you appropriately, please use caution, be alert and travel slowly.

CAUTION: Please drive SLOWLY through this rerouted traffic pattern as there are many areas of pedestrian and animal crossing.

Your patience and understanding during this inconvenience is greatly appreciate! If there are any issues arriving to the lab or if you need further assistance and directions please call our front desk at the following phone number: 608.262.5432. ~ Thank You

The Importance of Diagnostic Testing for the Global Cattle Genetics Industry

Check out our latest podcast on “Pathologically Speaking” to learn interesting facts and history on bovine genetics as well as how the WVDL plays a critical role for the global cattle genetics industry.

“Pathologically Speaking” is a podcast produced by the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. These podcasts consist of discussions and interviews with individuals focusing on current agriculture and veterinary related topics. On our most resent podcast, Dr. Jim Meronek from the American Breeders Services (ABS – Global), stops by to discuss the bovine genetics industry. Dr. Meronek shares his history as a veterinarian in the cattle genetics industry as well as some interesting facts about bovine genetics and his time spent on the WVDL Board of Directors. Please follow this link to learn more about the global cattle genetics industry and how the WVDL plays an important role in providing expert diagnostic testing for this sector of the cattle industry: . If you are looking to catch-up on more of the podcasts produced by the WVDL they can be found at this same link. So what are you waiting for? Hit that link and enjoy more podcast at “Pathologically Speaking”!

COVID-19 Testing for the UW – Madison Campus Serves as a Model for Outbreak Turnaround

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) visits the WVDL and recognizes the aid provided to pandemic testing at UW – Madison campus

News Story Shared from David Wahlberg | Wisconsin State Journal

UW-Madison COVID-19 testing at the WVDL serves as an “outbreak turnaround model” for the nation, with a visit from the Director of the CDC.

Expansion of COVID-19 testing at campuses like UW-Madison and a related drop in cases is a model for how to reduce spread of the coronavirus, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday during a visit to the university.

CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield joined interim UW System President Tommy Thompson in touring UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, which processes about 6,000 samples a week for the campus community and plans to double its capacity by January.

Weekly testing of students who live in dorms and of certain employees has helped the campus curb an outbreak in September, when hundreds of cases were reported and about 10% of students tested positive, officials say. This month, the daily average has been about 1%.It appears that positive tests among students, many without symptoms, persuaded them to wear masks, avoid crowds, maintain distance from others and wash their hands, Redfield said.

“The universities, they seem to have figured out … how to use testing to reinforce behavior change,” said Redfield, whose son was a transplant surgeon and researcher at UW-Madison before leaving recently for the University of Pennsylvania. “We’re hoping more and more veterinary schools will step up … and help provide expanded testing capability.”

The Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene, also on campus, has been busy processing COVID-19 tests from people around the state. It is sharing a federal license with the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab to enable the vet lab to process most samples for the campus, said Pete Schult, the state lab’s associate director.

Keith Poulsen, vet lab director, said the lab should be able to process 12,000 to 14,000 samples a week by January, when more expansive testing announced by the university Wednesday is expected to begin.

Redfield urged residents of Wisconsin — a national COVID-19 hot spot this month, seeing its most cases and deaths of the pandemic — to be vigilant about wearing masks, especially if gathering with family during upcoming holidays.

“The public square is pretty aware if you’re not wearing a mask,” he said. “Don’t let your guard down in your family gatherings, and we’re going to have a lot of them.”

One or two COVID-19 vaccines are likely to be available by December or January for limited distribution to high-risk groups and front-line workers, Redfield and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said during a public appearance Wednesday.

The general public should be able to get vaccinated by March or April, Azar said while addressing the media at the CDC in Atlanta.

“There is hope on the way in the form of safe and effective vaccines in a matter of weeks or months,” Azar said.

With six vaccines in advanced development, it’s possible several may be available next year, with varying rates of effectiveness, Redfield said.

“We’re going to be very clear about what we see scientifically as the pros and cons for the different populations,” he said.

See this link for more info.:

Mink and SARS-CoV-2

Information From the WVDL Regarding Mustelid Species Affected by SARS-CoV-2 –

By: Dr. Kathleen Deering, Diagnostic Pathologist / WVDL

Mink are exquisitely vulnerable to infection with SARS-CoV-2 (Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2).  Like humans, mink may also develop interstitial pneumonia, but the clinical disease in these animals is frequently severe and swiftly fatal.  Large outbreaks of  COVID-19 infected mink have occurred in Europe and, more recently, in several states in the U.S. Unfortunately, one of the most recent outbreaks took place on a mink farm in Wisconsin, resulting in the loss of large numbers of animals. 

The source of infection in these outbreaks in mink has been determined to be exposure to COVID-19 positive people working with these animals.  Infected mink are presumed to subsequently transmit the virus to other mink on the premises.  Infection between mink has been observed in the absence of direct contact between animals. The role of fomites and other forms of indirect transmission currently cannot be ruled out. Seropositive cats were identified on the premises of two infected mink farms in Europe; however, the source of the seropositivity and the role these cats may have played in disease transmission on these farms remain unknown. In one report, SARS-CoV-2 was not found in air samples collected outside of the facilities which housed infected mink.

Clinical signs reported in infected mink include watery to mucoid nasal discharge, dyspnea, anorexia, gastrointestinal signs, fever, and sudden death. Periocular moisture and crusting was also observed in several of the infected mink examined at WVDL.  Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 positive mink have been identified and reported.

While the ability of infected mink to transmit SARS-CoV-2 to humans has not been proven and is still highly speculative, wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is advised for anyone working on the premises with potentially infected mink.

WVDL played a major role in the diagnosis of the recent mink COVID-19 outbreak in our state.  The current guidelines for mink and other mustelid species (e.g., ferrets, fishers, martens, otters, skunk, badgers) sample submission to WVDL for disease and/or cause of death investigations are:

  • RECOMMENDED SAMPLE TYPE: Nasal or Oropharyngeal swabs in BHI (brain heart infusion) broth for transport for SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing. Swabs and BHI transport media may be requested by contacting the lab.
  • Submission of tissue samples and bodies of mustelid species is not recommended from premises with ongoing outbreaks that have not ruled out SARS-CoV-2 by PCR testing of nasal oropharyngeal swabs.

Please call ahead to alert us to impending mustelid species sample submissions.  And, as always, please call to speak with us should you have any questions concerning SARS-CoV-2 in mink or related species, and for how we may assist in cases of concern.

Links of interest:

Interim SARS-CoV-2 Guidance and Recommendations for Farmed Mink and Other Mustelids:

In-depth summary of reports of naturally acquired SARS-CoV-2 infections in domestic animals and farmed or captive wildlife:

WVDL Aids In UW – Madison’s Response To Pandemic

Cows To COVID: How A Veterinary Lab Became Key To UW-Madison’s Pandemic Response

MADISON, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) — In his time as director of the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Keith Poulsen says he’d never seen the lab perform a test on a human sample — until the pandemic landed on their doorstep. 

The lab, which sits on UW-Madison’s campus, mainly serves the agriculture industry, checking animal samples for disease. But as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world and loomed large over back-to-school plans, Poulsen and his team took up the call from campus leaders, adding humans to the herds and flocks they work to keep healthy.

“We’re happy that we’re at the table, that we’re able to assist,” Poulsen says. “We know that there’s extra work involved, and we all have our limited resources and time. But we’re happy to be involved.”

Now, the lab is processing around 1,200 to 1,400 samples each day from students, faculty, and staff as they track down bits of the coronavirus’s genetic material to help contain its spread.

The WVDL makes up a big piece of the pandemic strategy at UW-Madison, which, like colleges and universities across the country, has had to adapt to an unusual — and unusually precarious — fall semester.Poulsen and his team are part of a major cross-disciplinary effort on campus to bring up testing numbers and catch the virus in its tracks.

“The biggest consideration for us is being able to test as many people as we can on campus,” says Kelly Tyrrell, director of research communications for the school.

Shortly after students returned to campus, UW-Madison saw major spikes in case numbers. In mid-September, the seven-day positivity rate average rose past 10% as thousands of students quarantined in dorms and Greek houses.

Since then, the positivity rate has steadily declined to below 1%, even as the school has resumed more in-person activities. In total, 3,174 students and employees have tested positive.

Part of the school’s adapting response has involved scaling up testing. Previously, the school had been outsourcing all of its PCR tests to Exact Sciences in Madison.

Tyrrell says the school’s initial target was 6,000 tests per week; now, if necessary, the WVDL can process up to 2,000 tests each day. As of Tuesday, the campus had processed more than 8,500 tests in the past week, according to its Smart Restart dashboard. 

At a September media briefing, Chancellor Rebecca Blank said getting the WVDL up and running played a big role in decreasing turnaround times for results, which allowed the school to be “much more aggressive” in testing and isolating any infections. 

“The faster we can turn that around, the more effective our testing regime is,” Blank said.

The school is conducting weekly surveillance testing on all students and staff in residence halls, Tyrrell says. Other tests — some of which are still being sent out to Exact Sciences — come from voluntary surveillance programs for staff and off-campus students, or from those who make appointments after feeling symptoms or possibly being exposed. 

Anyone who tests positive is instructed to isolate, and their close contacts, identified by a new team of contact tracers, are sent to quarantine.

Poulsen says the WVDL has been able to get the vast majority of results back within the same day that students get swabbed, with a guarantee of 48 hours maximum wait time. A big chunk of the samples usually come into the lab around 3 p.m., he says, and technicians run the tests until late at night, usually getting results out by 1 a.m.

Getting to this level of testing capacity has been a “monumental task,” he says. They’ve hired about a dozen new staffers to support the added COVID-19 workload and worked with the school to get the right equipment and supplies in place. 

Plus, workers had to go through extra training to deal with human samples, like on HIPAA rules and patient privacy — things that aren’t required for animal testing. The lab is certified for its human testing through a partnership with the State Laboratory of Hygiene.

“It’s new and exciting,” Poulsen says of the COVID-19 testing. “And it also creates its challenges and problems.”

While Poulsen says the WVDL is serving as the “gold standard, core testing lab” on campus — and the PCR tests they use remain widely accepted as the diagnostic basis for COVID-19 — other testing models are also being used and researched at the school.

The Big Ten has implemented daily testing for football teams across the conference, including the Badgers, using rapid antigen tests that are quicker to process but may be less accurate. Tyrrell says any positive antigen results are sent for PCR testing for confirmation. (The two tests check for the virus in different ways: While PCR looks for bits of viral RNA, antigen tests seek out a protein on the virus’s surface.)

Researchers are also collecting wastewater at two sites on campus to check for the virus’s genetic material near residence halls. And another group of scientists, led by married professors Dave and Shelby O’Connor, have been looking into saliva-based LAMP testing as an option for wider surveillance testing.

The LAMP process uses a different set of chemicals to check for viral genetic material, and doesn’t require as much equipment or training as traditional PCR tests, Dave O’Connor says. Plus, it uses a different supply chain, which is useful in an “economy of scarcity” as labs scramble to get enough testing materials.

“You take saliva or a nasal swab, and you heat it up, and then you put it into a reaction and then it changes colors,” he says. “As molecular biology goes, it doesn’t get much easier than that. It’s about the simplest assay you can do.”

Like the antigen tests, these LAMP tests may be slightly less sensitive than PCR, and don’t have the same level of FDA approval. But Shelby O’Connor says these could prove useful for high-frequency screening to catch cases early on, and can be easily decentralized into pop-up test sites.

Still, for the moment, Tyrrell says the campus is continuing to rely mainly on its PCR tests for its isolation and quarantine decisions — while keeping their eye on the ever-expanding testing landscape. 

“I think that all options remain on the table for us, depending on how needs shift,” she says. “That’s been a common theme in this pandemic: So much changes on a daily basis. Part of being responsive is being nimble and keeping options open.”

These days, Tyrrell says the school’s testing capacity is meeting demand with some room to spare, though they’re remaining vigilant especially as case numbers keep climbing in Wisconsin and the regular flu season is fast approaching. 

At the lab, Poulsen says they’re settling into their new role as pandemic responders  while continuing to provide “mission critical” testing within their normal sphere of cows, chickens, and other animals. He says some of the main challenges now include dealing with strained supply chains and preventing burnout for employees working long hours in these stressful times — even just by giving little gifts or reminding everyone that their work matters to the campus’s pandemic response, a “machine with many cogs and moving parts.”

While testing humans for a world-altering disease isn’t part of the lab’s normal work, Poulsen says in the end, there’s a lot of connection between his field and other disciplines on campus. Those collaborations, he says, have been a valuable part of the school’s COVID-19 response. 

“Human, animal, and environmental issues don’t happen in a vacuum,” Poulsen says. “They’re all very intimately related.”

And Dave O’Connor, whose usual work also focuses on animals — primates, to be specific — says he and his team felt a real responsibility to use their skills in some way and address the crisis of the moment.

“We are not a diagnostics lab. This isn’t what we do,” he says. “But when the house is on fire, you don’t look around to figure out who’s going to grab a fire hose.”

Article Shared from SPECTRUM NEWS, written by Maddie Burakoff Madison, PUBLISHED 10:30 AM ET Oct. 14, 2020

Now That You’ve Swabbed, What Happens with Your COVID-19 Test?

Now That You’ve Swabbed, What Happens with Your COVID-19 Test?

The Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab (WVDL) has been instrumental for the COVID-19 testing being performed on the UW-Madison campus. Do you ever wonder how these samples are processed and tested following collection? Follow a COVID-19 sample from beginning to end and learn how data is collected at the WVDL. Find out more about the testing process and what these results mean. Testing represents one key part of managing the pandemic in Wisconsin, and the scientists at the WVDL have been tirelessly working to enable fast and reliable COVID-19 testing of UW-Madison students and staff. Follow this link to see the journey of sample testing from start to finish –