California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory System

Photo: Molecular Diagnostics (Biotechnology)

Molecular Diagnostics (Biotechnology)

The biotechnology section’s mission is to provide the “highest quality biotechnology testing and interpretation to support the animal health and diagnostic needs of veterinarians, food animal industries, and regulatory agencies. The section develops, validates, and performs efficiency studies for implementation of molecular-based procedures and assays to enhance diagnostics and health management for livestock and poultry.” Among the stated roles and responsibilities, the section notes quality assurance and control programs, responsiveness to changing diagnostic testing needs and trends, and assisting clients with interpretation of assay results based on an understanding of the technology, agents, and diseases being evaluated.

The Biotechnology section performs diagnostic and surveillance testing using standard and real-time PCR, antigen-capture ELISA, and direct sequence analysis. The section supports the cooperative USDA and CDFA Avian Health Group (avian influenza and exotic Newcastle disease surveillance) in management of the Swab kit program and performance of associated PCR testing. The section is active in NAHLN activities, and maintains USDA proficiency for Avian Influenza virus, exotic Newcastle Disease virus, Classical Swine Fever virus, Foot and Mouth disease virus, and Swine Influenza virus by real-time PCR.

The Biotechnology section also participates in the development of diagnostic assays in response to an outbreak or critical disease response need. An example is the field validation of the SNP assay for Equine Herpesvirus-1 during an outbreak on 3 California race tracks in 2006/2007, and a more recent example is the development and validation of a real-time PCR assay for the detection of very virulent variant of Infectious Bursal Disease virus in 2009. 

The section maintains Select Agent approval for selected viruses and toxins.