U.S.D.A. dedicates National Centers for Animal Health

by Bryan Salvage
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AMES, IOWA — The new National Centers for Animal Health (N.C.A.H.) was dedicated on April 19 by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and other U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) officials. The center provides laboratories, offices, animal space and administrative space for some of the nation's top animal-health scientists and researchers.

The dedication marked the completion of long-term project to consolidate three U.S.D.A. units previously operated separately at Ames, resulting in better cost-savings for taxpayers and employing about 700 people, according to a U.S.D.A. press release.

U.S.D.A. calls the N.C.A.H. a cutting-edge center operating from a single campus — such as the National Institutes of Health — with laboratories, offices, animal space and administrative space for some of the nation's top animal-health scientists and researchers. The facility includes the National Animal Disease Center, operated by U.S.D.A.'s Agricultural Research Service (A.R.S.), the National Veterinary Services Laboratory and the Center for Veterinary Biologics, operated by U.S.D.A.'s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (A.P.H.I.S.).

A.R.S. is the principal intramural scientific research agency of U.S.D.A. A.P.H.I.S. is responsible for protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health, administering the Animal Welfare Act, and carrying out wildlife damage management activities. All branches contribute to the nation's livestock industry by conducting research, diagnostics and training, as well as testing vaccines and evaluating veterinary biological products.

In 2009, A.P.H.I.S. and A.R.S. scientists and employees worked around the clock to test the first samples of the H1N1 virus, leading to the important discovery that infected pigs did not have any of the virus in their tissues and confirming the safety of the food supply, according to U.S.D.A. The work from A.R.S. and A.P.H.I.S. staff protects food sources for consumers throughout the world — and protects public health by minimizing human infectious diseases and food pathogens that might be transmitted from animals or their products.
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