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Veterinary lab system gains full accreditation
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Full accreditation of the Mississippi Veterinary Research and Diagnostic Laboratory System confirms the state's animals receive the level of care they deserve.
In December, the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians granted full accreditation to the four-laboratory system that includes labs in Jackson, Pearl, Starkville and Stoneville. The AAVLD accreditation committee conducted on-site inspections of the laboratories in September.
Dr. Lanny Pace is executive director of the Mississippi laboratory system and head of the pathobiology and population medicine department at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.
"Prior to last year's site visit, only the laboratory in Jackson had been accredited. The other three labs had never applied," Pace said. "Learning the lab system has received the status of full accreditation for all species is big news, making us one of only 38 accredited laboratories or laboratory systems in the United States and Canada."
In addition to being one of only a few states to have a laboratory system accredited, Mississippi possibly contains the only system to have an accredited fish laboratory -- located in the Thad Cochran National Warmwater Aquaculture Center in Stoneville -- and one of a few to have an accredited poultry lab -- the Poultry Research and Diagnostic Laboratory in Pearl.
Pace said accreditation is important to diagnostic laboratory systems because it ensures quality in the face of recent media attention of food-borne diseases, newly emerging diseases that have public health implications such as West Nile Virus, and diseases that affect animal agriculture markets such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease.
"A lot of Mississippi products go to foreign countries, so it's important that our lab system is recognized as one that follows internationally accepted standards for shipment of animal products," Pace said.
The AAVLD accreditation process mandates laboratories operate in a standardized fashion so that their results are reliable.
"For us to be in that group of laboratories adds a lot of credibility to what we are doing," said Dr. John Thomson, dean of MSU's veterinary college. "It's a major milestone for veterinary medicine in the state of Mississippi. Our goal is to build a leading-edge diagnostic system that is recognized nationally in poultry and fish disease diagnostics. This can only happen with full accreditation."
To gain AAVLD accreditation, a laboratory or laboratory system must meet several requirements, including being administered by a state department of agriculture, university, agricultural experiment station, state department of health, or by various combinations of such institutions. The lab director must be a veterinarian, and professional staff should have advanced training.
Also considered for the five-year accreditation are the laboratory system's physical facilities, record-keeping system, overall budget and necessary equipment. Accredited diagnostic laboratory systems also are required to have a documented quality assurance program to systematically monitor and evaluate the quality of all services.
Contact: Dr. Lanny Pace, (601) 354-6089, Dr. John Thomson, (662) 325-1131