December 08, 2014

(Dr. Dan) Hi there, folks. Welcome to DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson. I’m sure glad that you joined us today on the show. We’re gonna have a very special guest, Dr. Rodger Main, who is the Director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at Iowa State University. We’re gonna talk about new technologies and new things that are happening here in the world of veterinary diagnostics at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Stay tuned.

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(Dr. Dan) Rodger, welcome to the show. (Rodger) Good morning. Glad to be here, Dan. (Dr. Dan) Folks, this is Dr. Rodger Main and he’s the Director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab here at Iowa State University and it’s special for me to on the road being an Iowa State Alum and to be back here in Ames and spend some time with you all here at the College of Veterinary Medicine. (Rodger) Well welcome and we’re glad you’re here. (Dr. Dan) Well it’s always fun to come home. (Rodger) Yeah. (Dr. Dan) And you direct the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab and I think a lot of times people don’t understand the D Lab or, you know, the projects and services that you supply, so what are let’s just get a little background as to what you (Rodger) Kind of who we are and what we do, yup and, so, the Diagnostic Lab at Iowa State University is a team of about twenty-five faculty and a little over a hundred staff, technical staff and we’re housed here at the College of Veterinary Medicine here at Iowa State and we really have a tripartite type mission, but the core mission, the leading mission is service and, so, we serve as the reference laboratory for practicing veterinarians who send us all kinds of pieces, parts, samples, submissions and so on from the state of Iowa, but then from and especially in swine, from all over the country and, so, essentially we’re their reference diagnostic laboratory. (Dr. Dan) Cool and Iowa State is unique in the fact that your emphasis on some of the food animal. (Rodger) Yes, right. so we, you know, we’re a fully credited, full-service laboratory that provides comprehensive diagnostic services, so that means services across all of the different alleges or the diagnostic disciplines, but we have about ninety-five percent of our service work is related towards food animal medicine, food animal practitioners. (Dr. Dan) So what are some of let’s jump into, you know, some of the programs or some of the things, some of the happenings here at Iowa State’s Veterinary Diagnostic Lab. (Rodger) Right. so I think one of the things that people would be surprised about, Dan, is
that the amount of really state of the art technologies that are being used to monitor and improve and manage the health of our food supply or our production animal medicine and one example is that just here locally at our laboratory has seen a very significant increase in the utility of diagnostics over the last past number of years. in some scale, we process something a little over a thousand cases a week, so last year, we did something north of fifty-five thousand case submissions and, so that’s a little over a thousand boxes that come in again, from Iowa and throughout the country each week that have this kind of wide range of diagnostic testing and evaluation that’s done and one of the larger growth areas has been in the use of the molecular diagnostics in genetic sequencing technology, so molecular diagnostics or PCR diagnostics are, you know, state of the art tools for detection, presence, absences of specific diseases. The vast majority of that is same day testing and then we do an awful lot of genetic sequencing of specific viruses in particular to help practitioners better understand the epidemiology of where these different viruses have come from and how they can use that information to enhance their whether that’s vaccine based decisions and or specifically proactive management decisions to not only say, diagnose disease, but more over to prevent disease. (Dr. Dan) Wow, it’s kind of like the CSI for food animals. (Rodger) Absolutely, absolutely. (Dr. Dan) We’ll take a break now, but when we come back, we’ll have more about veterinary diagnostics with Dr. Rodger Main here at Iowa State University.

(Dr. Dan) Welcome back to DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Rodger Main who is the Director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and we’ve been having a discussion about the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in general and the transition to molecular diagnostics, but one of the things that I think people don’t understand is how important the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab is to food security and food safety. (Rodger) Right, so kind of in short, I think we all kind of with the working understanding that healthy animals means safe food and, so, the Diagnostic Laboratory is our folks here, we have a, you know, team of very talented diagnosticians and a very committed team of staff that work behind those folks, but those diagnosticians are really on the they’re really on the front lines that are working on a daily basis and I mentioned in the previous segment about a thousand times a week that there’s a direct touch to an individual practitioner that’s out there working with producers on farms looking after the health of their animals and, so, we really play a significant role at the laboratory of supporting our local practitioners who are working in turn with their producers to do all that we can to help ensure that we have a healthy livestock industry and more importantly, a safe and sustainable source of protein to feed our people and, of course, a big thing in animal agriculture has occurred to is the growth of our export. Our export meat animal industry has just been nothing short of phenomenal and that’s a sustainable thing for our states, our economies, to help protect that market access to trade. (Dr. Dan) Well we did a survey, I do some consulting for McDonald’s Corporation, did a survey globally and asked the consumers to define animal welfare and food safety and the two things that came up from that survey, number one, the consumer associates a healthy food product or a safe food product coming from a healthy animal and an animal that’s healthy is one that’s well taken care of. (Rodger) That’s right, that’s right and I think that’s very correct and there’s not a whole lot more then maintaining the health of the animal that has a direct impact on its well being and I think one of the things that’s probably had one of the most significant changes in our diagnostic arena has been the use of proactive, surveillance based diagnostics and, so, these diagnostics are truly being done on the front end to say is how do we really promote the health, well being and ultimately the welfare of the animals that are being reared to ensure we have this not only productive industries that we serve, but moreover, a very safe product that is going into the food chain. (Dr. Dan) Yup. We’re gonna take another break, but I think it’s important to understand that the profession, veterinary profession is key to animal welfare and food safety and within our profession, what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis in our Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, you’re kind of the front door to that all. (Rodger) Sure. We definitely provide a significant role from delivering state of the art technology and tools to our practitioners who are working producers on the farms on a daily basis. (Dr. Dan) That’s great. Thanks for watching DocTalk. More with Dr. Rodger Main from Iowa State University as DocTalk is on the road after the break.

(Dr. Dan) Hi there, folks. Welcome back to DocTalk. I’m Dan Thomson and I’m here with Dr. Rodger Main, who’s the Director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory here at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Tickled to death to pry you away. I know how busy you are and coming here, but you know, when we talked about diagnostics and the importance and we had mentioned during the break, some of these trans boundary diseases, understanding the importance, I don’t think people understand the importance of food security and why we have the Diagnostic Lab set up the way that we do. (Rodger) Right. Well I think one recent example that we’ve definitely been right in the middle of here at Iowa State recently has been in the spring of 2013 in May, there was a new virus of a virus that was new to the U.S. that was introduced that causes diarrhea in pigs and definitely a high degree of mortality in neonatal pigs when they’re first infected, when the breeding farms are first infected and just to give you an example of kind of how something like that plays out and, so, how that starts, it all starts with a case, right, where the practicing veterinarian is working with a farmer, they see some pigs of ill health, they submit samples to the Diagnostic Lab and then it’s really that interaction between the practitioner and the diagnostician going back and forth to say how do we figure this out? And just to give you an example of how the lab plays a front line in that is to say that it starts with a case and then it’s not solved and, so, then we involve our more research focused diagnosticians and this is in a matter of days, not weeks or months to say we’ve got this case, this is not resolving, what could it be? What is this? Are there diseases elsewhere in the world that look like this, present like this? And to give you an example then, within a matter of relay ten days of that initial submission, we were able to run what’s called a PCR that’s specifically just a family of viruses and says, well that family of viruses is in there and look at it under an electron microscope to say, well there, I can see it, right, and then we run these molecular sequencing technologies to say it’s this virus, know the genome of the virus and then not only know what virus it is, but where in the world it came from within a matter of days and then, of course, the lab is on the front lines to get those diagnostic tools on board here so they can be offered to the industry as the industry works through or how are we gonna contain, control and manage this new disease that has been introduced into our country? (Dr. Dan) So then from start to finish, from the case from out in the field to having the virus identified and replicated within ten days? (Rodger) Yes. it was basically over a two week period from the time of that first case coming in to the U.S. Department of Agriculture announcing we now have this new disease that’s been entered into the U.S. (Dr. Dan) It’s remarkable and the importance to that, we’ve got about thirty seconds before the break, but you know, your funding and keeping this is so vital for the economy of the United States. (Rodger) Sure, sure. So we play a really, like I say, a front line role and then we’re very fortunate too that we have, as far as a very close relationship with our stake holders, meaning our clients with the veterinarians and then the commodity groups who are, you know, support them and between that and our relationship here at the college and with the Iowa Department of Agriculture, it’s really, I think it’s probably one of the most classic working examples of, you know, the tripartite mission of the land grant institutions in action on a daily basis. (Dr. Dan) That’s great. After the break, we’ll come back and have a conclusion with Dr. Rodger Main. You’re watching DocTalk and we’re glad that you joined us.

(Dr. Dan) Hi there, folks. Welcome back to DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Rodger Main, who’s the Director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and we’re talking about diagnostics and incredible technology that you all have and amazing ten days from the time of practitioner sees the disease in the field and all of the sudden we know what’s going on. What’s next? I mean, you know, there’s some limitations out there and what are some things we’re gonna have to do? (Rodger) So we definitely, you know, continue to learn every day, but this introduction of this new disease into the U.S. swine herd, essentially, and unfortunately, once this new disease got into what would otherwise be a naive population as a U.S. herd so to speak, it’s definitely shown some ability to spread quite quickly and, so, there’s a lot of parallels that we’re saying, well how do we learn from this to make us better in the future? And one of the key components that were working in cooperation with our pier diagnostic labs, including Kansas State, is how do we enhance our animal health information management networks art, if you will, because that is an area that really has some opportunity to improve to really enhance the country’s preparedness and readiness to manage new diseases as well whether that’s eradicating diseases that we have or containing new diseases that may occur in the future and it’s really all about how do we get system, user-friendly systems in place that can readily link, whether that’s an animal movement or a diagnostic submission back to a specific herd and get it in a network that the folks that need access to that information, meaning the practitioner and producer groups and state animal health officials, in the case of regulatory diseases, really to say where we have seen what systems in which information can move because one thing we will have learned for sure about this is, you know, so much of animal agriculture today runs on wheels. (Dr. Dan) Yup, trucks. (Rodger) Trucks, right, so the amount of animal movement that occurs in this country is tremendous and all of that movement and the transition of animal agriculture to segregated systems of production has really been built around enhancing the animal health, welfare, well being and productivity and, so, we’ve sure seen that and we just played a significant role in enhancing the well being of the industries and the competitiveness in the global marketplace, which is a significant reason why the U.S. exports have increased so dramatically in recent years and, so, it’s how do we enhance our information management infrastructure such that we’re in a potion such that those market accesses are sustainable. (Male) Well at the end of the day, you’ve got tremendous technology and we need to be able to trace the animal movements, so. (Rodger) Yes. (Dr. Dan) Alright, well thanks a million for being on the show. (Rodger) You bet. Thanks, Dan. (Dr. Dan) Always a pleasure to come back. (Rodger) Glad you could come visit us here at the College of Vet Med at Iowa State. (Dr. Dan) Well thanks for taking the time out and thank you for watching DocTalk. If you want to know more about what we do at DocTalk, you can find us on the web at Remember always work with your local practitioner. You’ve been watching us here on RFD T.V. We’re sure glad you joined us. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson from Kansas State University and I’ll see you down the road.

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