While the West Virginia Department of Agriculture is proud their Poultry Laboratory was recently recertified after a rigorous annual test, W.V. Agriculture Commissioner Gus R. Douglass continues to push for more updates to other WVDA facilities. The Poultry Lab is located in the Moorefield Agricultural Laboratory Complex which was renovated in 2005, but Douglass points out other WVDA laboratories operate out of "60-year-old military barracks."
"Sadly, the buildings outside Charleston that house our food safety and other laboratories are grossly inadequate, which prevents the expertise of our staff there from being recognized with national accreditation," says Commissioner Douglass.
"It is critical that we have state-level laboratories," he adds. "The USDA simply does not have the capacity to handle the volume of work that needs to be done. If West Virginia were to be affected by a multi-state food-borne illness, you can imagine what priority the federal government would put on our state. When I was first elected, West Virginia was a dumping ground for adulterated and low-quality food. We have remedied that situation, and I hope it never arises again. West Virginia's hard-working citizens deserve better."
The Moorefield Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory recertification followed an extensive review process. The recertification is a necessary part of membership in the National Animal Health Laboratory Network.
"Having such a certification provides the highest level of confidence in the diagnostic capabilities of our staff at Moorefield," says Commissioner Douglass. "It also puts our poultry laboratory in a posture to provide the entire nation with a greater diagnostic surge capacity in the event of a major poultry disease outbreak."
The laboratory's four microbiologists are among about 250 in the country who meet NAHLN's stringent standards for performing and reporting Exotic Newcastle and avian influenza testing.
"The proficiency test is very difficult and must be taken annually. Each microbiologist runs predetermined samples, and they can only miss one out of 30 determinations. I'm extremely proud of them, and of our poultry lab in general," says State Veterinarian Dr. Jewell Plumley, head of WVDA's Animal Health Division. "Going through this process is truly making us a better laboratory."
Learn more about West Virginia's animal health laboratories at the WVDA website at www.wvagriculture.org/.