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July 2019

In this issue:

Notes from the director
Trichomonas foetus testing submission guidelines
Tick season
Staff updates

Notes from the director

By Bruce Brodersen

I wanted to pass along a few comments as we pass the midway point of 2019.

In the last year, the Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Center has been working with new poultry production companies as they expand in Nebraska. Because of this increased demand, we have added a significant repertoire of tests that pertain to poultry. We have become an accredited National Poultry Improvement Plan laboratory in order to serve our new clientele. Much of this increase in poultry caseload in the NVDC has been a direct result of the efforts of Dr. Don Reynolds, the Nebraska Extension veterinarian in the School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

The NVDC has three staff members who have passed proficiency tests from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratory to prepare them to perform testing for African Swine Fever Virus, should it arrive in the U.S. The NVDC is part of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) and will serve as either an overflow laboratory should extra testing be needed from another state or will be a primary laboratory, should the disease be discovered in Nebraska.

Dr. Dustin Loy will be presenting a talk, “Developments and application of molecular diagnostics in BRD,” at the 2019 Bovine Respiratory Disease Symposium in August, located in Denver. You can find out more information here.

We continue to evolve our processes in our new building and with our new laboratory information management software, particularly on the accounting side. I know there has been some frustrating issues among some of our clients, but we are working through them. With our new staff from the UNL Business Center, we are making great progress. If you are still having issues with accounts, please feel free to contact the NVDC so we may help resolve the problems.

You will see (below) we have several new staff. One of those people is our new Quality Manager. She has brought our Quality System up to date and further refined how we track complaints and more effectively track non-conformances within the Laboratory. When we receive a client complaint, we document the incident, what immediate corrective action was taken, perform a root-cause analysis of the problem, and determine if the problem was due to a system-wide policy or if it was an individual error. We take mistakes very seriously and try to quickly resolve them in an effort to provide the best service we can to you, our clients.

Trichomonas foetus testing submission guidelines

T. foetus Culture:

  • Samples submitted for T. foetus culture must be submitted in the appropriate TF transit media. If you are in need of supplies, contact the VDC at 402-472-8470.
  • Samples for culture should be submitted in InPouch TF media. If samples are submitted in a TF transit tube, a processing and InPouch fee will be applied.
  • All samples must be inoculated into unexpired media and shipped within five days of collection.
  • Pooling of samples is not permitted.
  • After collection, store samples upright, in a dark location at room temperature. When shipping, send samples overnight without ice. If outside temperatures are exceedingly warm, ice packs may be placed inside the shipping container. If ice packs are included, do not allow the ice to come into direct contact with samples or allow the InPouch TF media to freeze.

T. foetus PCR:

  • Samples submitted for T. foetus PCR must be submitted in the appropriate TF transit media. If you are in need of supplies, contact the VDC at 402-472-8470.
  • Samples for PCR should be submitted in a TF transit tube. If the samples are submitted in InPouch TF media, a processing fee will be applied.
  • All samples must be inoculated into unexpired media and shipped within five days of collection.
  • If the samples require pooling, the submitting veterinarian MUST note this on their submission form. The UNL NVDC cannot pool T. foetus samples at their own discretion.
  • States vary in their acceptance of pooling for import requirements. Please check with the state animal health official for their import requirements.
  • Samples cannot be pre-pooled by the submitting veterinarian. This must be performed only by the diagnostic laboratory.
  • T. foetus samples submitted in TF transit tubes for PCR do not require incubation.
  • T. foetus samples submitted in InPouch TF media for PCR must be incubated before testing. If you wish to incubate prior to shipping, please incubate samples in the dark, in an upright position, at 35-37° Celsius for 24 hours. If incubation is performed by the submitting veterinarian, please note this on the submission form.
  • After collection, store TF transit tubes in either a refrigerator or freezer, in the dark. Ship samples on ice.
  • If collecting T. foetus samples for PCR in InPouch TF media, store samples upright, in a dark location at either room temperature or in a 35-37° Celsius for 24 hours. Ship samples not yet incubated overnight at room temperature without ice. If outside temperatures are exceedingly warm, ice packs may be placed inside the shipping container. If ice packs are included, do not allow the ice to come into direct contact with the samples or allow the InPouch TF media to freeze.
  • Incubated samples in InPouch TF media can either be sent with ice or at room temperature.

For questions regarding T. foetus collection, storage, or shipment requirements please contact the NVDC at 402-472-8470.

Samples can now be shipped to the UNL Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Center using the UPS EZ-Ship option. Please visit the web page for more information and to learn the benefits of using the UPS EZ-Ship option. – Laura Leger, Bacteriology Laboratory manager.

Tick season

Black-legged tick AKA Deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) in Nebraska

From: Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services

Lincoln – Nebraskans can now add the blacklegged tick to the list of ticks found in the state. Established populations of this tick were recently identified for the first time in Nebraska in Douglas, Sarpy and Saunders counties. Blacklegged ticks, also called deer ticks, can transmit Lyme disease and other diseases.

“Ticks can be efficient carriers of disease and tick-related illnesses can be serious," said Dr. Tom Safranek, state epidemiologist for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). “We see very few cases of Lyme disease and other human diseases associated with this tick in Nebraska. Most have been from exposure in areas of the country where the tick and the diseases it transmits have been long-established. Detection of established populations heightens our concern."

DHHS plans to keep a close eye on the blacklegged tick and efforts are underway to conduct further surveillance. People concerned about possible infection from a tick bite should contact a healthcare provider. Suspected infections should be reported to a local health department or DHHS.

Ticks are not insects. They're actually close relatives of scorpions, mites and spiders. There are now four types of medically-important ticks found in Nebraska:

  • American dog tick
  • Rocky Mountain wood tick
  • Lone Star tick
  • Blacklegged tick/Deer tick

There are simple steps people can take that offer protection against any type of tick.

Preventive steps include:

  • Use a repellent with at least 20 percent DEET, picaridin or IR3535 or permethrin-treated clothing.
  • Dress in long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks when you're outside.
  • Do frequent tick checks after being outdoors and remove attached ticks promptly with fine-tipped tweezers.
  • Shower as soon as possible after being outdoors.

Ticks are generally found near the ground, in brushy or wooded areas. They can't jump or fly. Instead, they climb tall grasses or shrubs and wait for you to brush against them. When this happens, they hang on to you with tiny claws and then take a bite.

What to do if you find an attached tick:

  • Remove the attached tick as soon as you notice it by grasping with fine-tipped tweezers, as close to the skin as possible, and pulling it straight out. Early removal can minimize and often eliminate the chance of infection.
  • Watch for signs of illness such as rash or fever in the days and weeks following the bite, and see a health care provider if these develop.

Additional information about tick-related diseases is available here.

Some pets are also susceptible to tick-related disease. Learn more about tick bite prevention for your pets.

Diagnosis of tick-borne diseases

Serologic testing against a variety of tick borne disease are performed at the NVDC. This is done via the indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA). Our “Tick Panel” includes Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Ehrlichia canis. Seroconversion is generally detectable within about a week after clinical signs are observed.

Staff updates

This is a long overdue update on who’s who at the NVDC. In the last year, we have lost some folks and gained several new people. First, I’m sure you all know that Dr. Alan Doster retired as the director of the laboratory in April 2018, having been at UNL since 1979. Dr. Bruce Brodersen was selected to replace Dr. Doster in April 2019. This leaves a hole in our pathology core, but we have advertised to fill the pathologist position left by Dr. Brodersen’s promotion. Collectively, the pathologists are having to pick up the slack. Mavis Seelmeyer retired as the leader of our administrative staff after serving the university for 31 years. Thank you so much, both Dr. Doster and Mrs. Seelmeyer!

Mavis’s replacement has been hired and is Brenda Richards. Brenda has a wealth of experience and is rapidly learning our system. We have added an additional administrative staff person, Colleen Grace. Colleen floats between sample receiving, case processing and transcription duties. In order to handle the increasing caseload, we have hired five additional laboratory technicians. They are Amy Lingel and Sitong Liu in Virology/Serology, Renata Spuri Gomes in Molecular Diagnostics, Aaron Knapp in Bacteriology, and Karen Shrader in Sample Receiving. We welcome their arrival, and they have contributed greatly to the NVDC. The Business Center has brought us two new staff as well, Nancy Lewendowski (accounting associate), and Kathy Ellis (business manager). As you communicate with us, you may encounter these new staff.