Title: Kissimmee Level 3 Bio-Safety Lab Video
Florida plays a critical role in our nation's food supply and economy. As a gateway for international trade and travel, Florida has seen an increasing number of non-native animal species brought into the state each year. Along with these imports comes the threat of exotic diseases and biohazards, placing the state's citizens and its multi-billion dollar agriculture industry at constant risk. The need to rapidly diagnose and prevent the spread of theses diseases has never been more crucial.
Continually increasing demands have overloaded the current federal and state diagnostic infrastructure. A major outbreak of an exotic disease or bio-terrorism agent could quickly overwhelm the system with hundreds of thousands of samples being submitted simultaneously. This backlog in testing could have a dangerous cascading effect, increasing the impact of the immediate outbreak, and suspending the routine testing of domestic diseases, leading to additional losses.
To address these critical issues, the USDA developed a pilot program for a national laboratory system to increase Homeland security. It identified 12 labs across the nation to augment the National Veterinary Services Laboratory and the Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory. Long recognized as Florida's primary facility for animal disease diagnosis, the Florida Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Diagnostic Laboratories in Kissimmee was selected by the USDA for this program.
The Kissimmee Diagnostic Laboratory (or KDL) was the logical location for a Level Three Bio-safety Lab. An accredited, all-species, full service laboratory system, the Kissimmee lab houses one of the Southeast’s most comprehensive diagnostic programs. While most private labs run large volumes of routine tests, the Kissimmee lab is able to perform specific tests for more precise diagnosis. From necropsies of large, domestic and exotic animals, to specialized diagnosis made on companion animals and numerous non-native species, the Kissimmee lab performs about 1,000,000 procedures each year.
In addition to the monitoring of animal diseases, the lab also conducts thousands of tests each year for public health threats, such as anthrax, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
The Kissimmee facility is comprised of eight sections, each focusing on a distinct discipline. While each section performs different procedures, they share the common goal of protecting Florida's animal population.
The Virology/Molecular Biology section diagnoses animal diseases by testing for the presence of viruses in animal specimens. It also has a high-magnification microscope to identify disease-causing viruses not visible using traditional microscopes.
Clinical Pathology/Parasitology rapidly analyzes blood samples and fecal specimens for parasites, quickly giving veterinarians the information needed to treat sick animals.
The Kissimmee Diagnostic Lab is one of only seven labs in the United States certified by the USDA for diagnosis of aquatic diseases. The Aquaculture section checks for parasites and bacterial infections, as well as pathogens that could impact Florida's aquaculture industry.
The role of the Immunohistochemistry, or IHC, is to localizing specific antigens in tissues or cells in order to detect infectious and non-infectious diseases like Chronic Wasting Disease, BSE, Scrapie and Bovine Viral Diarrhea.
The Toxicology section examines specimens for exposure to toxic chemicals ranging from insecticides to heavy metals.
Recovering and identifying disease-causing bacteria from livestock and companion animals is the job of the Bacteriology section.
The Serology section tests serum samples for diseases like Eastern Equine Encephalitis, West Nile virus, and Brucellosis. The Kissimmee Diagnostic Lab is currently developing new DNA tests for these diseases.
The Pathology section conducts the initial gross examination of dead animals of that have been submitted to the laboratory. Pathology also collects tissues and to be tested by other laboratory sections.
Pathologists in the Histology section prepare and provide high quality slides of microscopic preserved tissues which enable diagnosis of the disease.
Although the Kissimmee Diagnostic Lab does receive samples each day from livestock owners, the primary sources of submissions are veterinarians. Samples from across the state are tested for a variety of reasons. For instance, imported livestock could spread diseases not yet known in the United States, like Foot and Mouth Disease; domestic diseases like Chronic Wasting Disease in deer and elk, could easily enter the state undetected, decimating Florida's cervid population.
Conversely, animals moving from Florida to another state or country are tested to prevent the spread of any undetected illnesses in Florida's livestock. A show horse, for instance, is tested for Equine Infectious Anemia; cattle or other livestock sold for processing are tested for viral diseases prior to sale to protect the nation's food supply.
When there is a suspicion that an animal has been poisoned or drugged, the KDL is responsible for running tests that authorities could use to file criminal charges.
The Kissimmee Diagnostic Lab works with the USDA, the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, the State Department of Health, and numerous animal groups. Continued staff development and training programs on all levels maintain the lab's standards of excellence and level of service to the agriculture community. Through usage fees, the Lab generates about $750,000 in revenue, and continues to expand its facilities and enhance its programs to address Florida’s increasingly complex needs.
The addition of the new Level Three Bio-safety Lab, or BSL3, is a key component of this crucial expansion. One of the most technologically advanced and secure facilities of its kind anywhere in the country, the lab provides Florida with the ability to quickly and thoroughly response to any potential outbreak. This rapid diagnosis could cut weeks off the reaction time needed to formulate a strategy to protect the health of the public and livestock population.
Confinement is the key to the lab's success. The BSL 3 provides the highly secure, contained environment required when handling dangerous viruses and bacteria, as well as exotic organisms that are higher risk, disease-causing agents. Thanks to a highly advanced isolated airflow system, veterinarians, scientists and technicians work safely with state of the art equipment without the threat of contamination.
The new BSL will target diseases of immediate concern, such as Foot and Mouth, Avian Influenza, Newcastle’s Disease and African and Classical Swine Fever. In addition to these, the Lab has the ability to test for toxins and highly contagious viruses, bacteria and prion diseases such as Mad Cow and Chronic Wasting Disease.
While it is still a part of the animal diagnostic lab, the BSL 3 also plays a major role in preventing highly contagious human diseases, since many of these diseases occur in animals. Because of its ability to safely analyze potentially lethal organisms, the lab is on the front line in diagnosing threats like anthrax, exotic viruses and new emerging disease agents.
With the addition of the BSL3, the Kissimmee Lab has become a vital component in the nation's fight against exotic diseases and bio-terrorism. As part of the national laboratory system, The Kissimmee Diagnostic Laboratory 's work now extends beyond the health of Florida's livestock; to protecting the nation’s food supply, the economy and the citizens.