About

Mission

The Animal Health Diagnostic Center (AHDC) & New York State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell University offers comprehensive veterinary diagnostic services in anatomic and clinical pathology; microbiology (bacteriology, virology, parasitology, molecular diagnostics, and serology); toxicology; endocrinology, and comparative coagulation. The AHDC includes Quality Milk Production Services (QMPS) with laboratories in Canton, Cobleskill, Ithaca and Warsaw; the Avian Health Program including the Duck Research Laboratory on Long Island, and the Wildlife Health Program, funded through a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation contract. Faculty in the Veterinary Support Services group provide consultation and assistance to clients on test selection, sampling and testing strategies, interpretation of results and incorporation of diagnostics in disease prevention, surveillance and control programs. One quarter of the FY2020 $31 Million operational budget of the AHDC is funded through a contract with the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets to support its function of NYS Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, as established by law.

The AHDC employs more than 200 faculty and staff who in 2019 processed 229,582 accessions for 7,665 veterinary accounts from all states and territories of the Union and from abroad, with 101,548 accessions from New York State. By species the AHDC processed 108,528 equine accessions, 64,385 and 12,197 canine and feline accessions, 31,322 bovine accessions, 2,562 and 1,229 caprine and ovine accessions, 785 cervidae accessions, 2,981 avian accessions, and the remainder from a wide array of other companion, livestock, wildlife and exotic species. Specimens from over 554,000 individual animals, more than half bovine, were tested by one or more laboratories at the AHDC.

Diagnostic testing in particular of livestock and poultry specimens supports and protects a vibrant component of the NYS agricultural economy, providing effective surveillance of endemic and epidemic disease events in the state and beyond. The AHDC is a designated a Level 1 laboratory in the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, based on its accreditation status, infrastructure and functional laboratory information management system, its high level of emergency preparedness, surveillance capabilities and continuous surveillance output, the value and level of animal commodities in its service areas, and its active organizational contribution to the network.

The AHDC has 4,677 ft2 BSL-3 functional space that is fully commissioned and has proficiency tested personnel and capability to test for avian influenza and exotic Newcastle disease, African swine fever, classical swine fever, chronic wasting disease and scrapie, foot and mouth disease, and swine influenza, which all are high impact and/or foreign animal diseases.

History

Since 1912, a veterinary diagnostic service has existed at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University. In the 1970's the New York State Legislature enacted laws that authorized the Commissioner of Agriculture to contract with Cornell University for the operation of a veterinary diagnostic laboratory. In 1974, funds were appropriated for the construction of a veterinary diagnostic laboratory building within the College of Veterinary Medicine complex. The State law that governs the creation and operation of a veterinary diagnostic service at Cornell University was amended in 2001 to include the following language:

S 73-b. The New York state veterinary diagnostic laboratory.

  1. The commissioner is authorized to establish and maintain, by contract or otherwise, a New York state veterinary diagnostic laboratory and to contract for other diagnostic services, as he or she may deem necessary or beneficial, to improve the health of food and fiber producing animals, companion animals, sport and recreational animals, exotic animals and wildlife.
  2. The New York state veterinary diagnostic laboratory shall:
    • Evaluate domestic and wild animal populations for evidence of disease agents that may cause human disease;
    • Maintain capability to respond to disease outbreaks in animals;
    • Establish diagnostic testing capabilities to establish herd health status and evaluation of disease programs;
    • Support disease surveillance and monitoring programs of domestic, zoo and wild animals;
    • Support veterinarians by analyzing and interpreting samples obtained from clinical cases; and
    • Evaluate, adjust and improve New York’s ability to recognize diseases that impact animal populations.

The AHDC is accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD). The AAVLD Essential Requirements for accreditation incorporate the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines for veterinary laboratories. 

The AHDC has tests in serology, virology, bacteriology and molecular diagnostics under ISO 17025:2017 scope. The AHDC is set up to report under GLP.  A quality assurance program is essential for the laboratory to provide assurance to our clients that test results released by the AHDC meet the highest quality standards.

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