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Diagnostic lab system advances in the state
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi livestock farmers and poultry producers are a giant step closer to economic security with the completion of a $500,000 laboratory and ground breaking for an adjacent $18 million facility near Pearl.
Mississippi State University officials joined state government representatives and others with interest in the state's animal industries for the recent opening of the 2,000-square-foot Poultry Diagnostic Laboratory and ground breaking for a 40,000-square-foot facility, which will expand the diagnostic services to all animal species.
"When a major disease outbreak occurs in an animal industry, rapid diagnoses and responses are the keys to preventing catastrophic losses," said Dr. Lanny Pace, executive director for the Mississippi Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System. "In this climate of biosafety concerns, the need for a state-of-the-art facility becomes even more imperative."
Pace, a professor of veterinary pathology with MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine, said the new facilities represent significant advancements in animal diagnostic services in the state. The state-operated diagnostic lab in Jackson merged into the university system last year, joining labs in Starkville, Stoneville and Pearl. The poultry lab in Forrest was moved to the Jackson area temporarily before the completion of the new Pearl facility.
"This new facility will be able to handle routine diagnostic services as well as have biosecurity levels to protect personnel if an agroterrorism event occurs," Pace said.
Dr. Jim Watson, state veterinarian, said the last diagnostic lab for Mississippi was built about 50 years ago and a new facility has been needed for years.
"When I have to make decisions that impact a farmer's or producer's livelihood or in terms of animals that may need to be destroyed because of diseases, it is important that we have rapid, accurate diagnostic capabilities," Watson said. "As a former large animal practitioner in the Jackson area, I know the need for a facility such as this."
Dr. John Thomson, dean of MSU's veterinary college, said Mississippi legislators were proactive when they addressed animal health and disease concerns by their support of the new diagnostic lab.
"When they appropriated the first funds to support the poultry diagnostic lab, problems like anthrax bioterrorism, foot-and-mouth disease in Europe, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, West Nile Virus and some of the recent news-making poultry diseases were not issues," Thomson said. "Thanks to these laboratories, we will be able to provide our society with the infrastructure to serve the people of this state."
Ways and Means Committee chairman Billy McCoy also commended state legislators in the House and Senate as well as other government representatives for anticipating Mississippi's future needs. Despite financial challenges, he said the House and Senate have worked hand in hand to improve the diagnostic laboratory system.
During the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the poultry lab and the ground breaking for the animal diagnostic facility, special credit was given to Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck's office and the Department of Mental Health for helping find state-owned land for the lab.
Contact: Dr. Lanny Pace, (601) 354-6089