The Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory (WSVL) has achieved full accreditation for its work to diagnose potentially high-stakes animal diseases in the Cowboy State.
An eight-month review by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians culminated in March with recognition that personnel, practices, equipment and facilities meet the highest professional standards. Reaccreditation is required every five years.
William Laegreid, professor and head of the University of Wyoming Department of Veterinary Sciences, heads the WSVL. He says someone there is on the job 365 days a year.
“These are dedicated, hard-working people,” Laegreid says of the more than 30 faculty and staff members, and approximately 25-30 university student workers.
The WSVL operates at the intersection of health, disease and mortality of wildlife, domestic animals and humans. Staff members and student employees conduct animal blood tests and biopsies; and analyze carcasses, organs and tissue samples. The need for a diagnosis also may lead them to test environmental samples such as forage, feed, water and bedding.
In 2015, the WSVL handled 21,420 cases.
Investigations could be prompted by an aborted calf; elk found dead; suspected chronic wasting disease in a hunter’s kill; or the sudden loss of a companion animal. The lab also performs health screening tests. Each day, on average, the WSVL receives 80 to 100 cases.
Laegreid says what all cases have in common is someone needs an answer.
As important to the WSVL mission as diagnosis are animal disease research and education for veterinarians, students and others with a stake in animal health, he says.
WSVL reports findings to veterinarians, pet owners, hunters, show ring participants, livestock operators, the Wyoming Livestock Board, the Wyoming Department of Health and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, which maintains a separate but integrated laboratory in the building.
High-consequence diseases may be reported to the Centers for Disease Control and the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The WSVL also produces an annual report for the governor and others as mandated by state statute.
Funding comes from fees, grants and contracts, and through UW and the USDA programs for foreign animal disease investigations and eradication.
Laegreid says the WSVL works with 60 mammal species, plus birds, reptiles and fish, which “keeps it interesting.”