The Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) is offering two new diagnostic panels – one for cattle and one for dogs – that use a single specimen to rapidly detect a wide range of common health issues.

The test panels were developed by the laboratory’s newly created section for diagnostic development, which is managed by Dr. Mangkey Bounpheng. A diagnostic panel runs a series of several tests simultaneously, thus saving time and money for veterinarians and animal owners.

The cost of the cattle panel for Texas clients is $40, which is significantly less than running all of the tests individually. Turnaround time is three days. The cattle test is available at TVMDL’s full-service labs in College Station and Amarillo.

The canine panel test is $80 for Texas clients and turnaround time is approximately three days. The canine respiratory test is available only at TVMDL’s College Station location.

Dr. Terry Hensley, assistant agency director and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service veterinarian in College Station, said the new panels will help practitioners more quickly determine the causes of disease often found in dogs and cattle.

Using a molecular test known as a polymerase chain reaction (or PCR), the panels detect the genetic code of a disease-causing organism. A PCR test does not depend on the lab growing the organism in a culture, which can take days or weeks.

“A PCR test will produce a faster result that is very specific,” Hensley said. “The PCR test is not an answer to all diagnostic problems, but it can help a veterinarian arrive at a quicker diagnosis and to fine-tune the treatment.”

A PCR test is particularly helpful when a disease-causing organism is difficult to isolate, Hensley said, or when a veterinarian must deal with a disease outbreak in a large herd.

“It’s a lot easier to run 50 PCR tests than do 50 cell cultures,” he said.

TVMDL’s new panel for cattle will detect bovine herpevirus, bovine leucosis, bluetongue virus and bovine viral diarrhea virus from one specimen. The panel can be run on nasal swabs, semen, milk and whole blood treated with ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, also known as EDTA, including tissues that have not been preserved in formalin.

The panel is especially useful for export testing and herd health screening, Hensley said.

The canine respiratory panel will detect bordetella, adenovirus type 2, distemper, herpesvirus 1, influenza, parainfluenza and respiratory coronavirus. The panel requires only a single dry swab taken from the trachea or the oropharynx.

Dr. Pam Ferro, section head for virology and molecular diagnostics in College Station, said the canine panel helps veterinarians arrive at a diagnosis more quickly and more accurately than did previous tests.

“A veterinarian might evaluate a dog’s symptoms and initially think it has canine influenza,” Ferro said.  “But it could also be distemper. With one sample and one test, we can now provide a fast and reliable result to help that veterinarian make an accurate diagnosis.”

For more information on diagnostic testing, visit this TAMU website.