PVM’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory Receives CLIA Recertification

Friday, April 29, 2022

We all remember the announcements that flooded our phones as the pandemic unfolded in 2020 – each new day seemed to bring new instructions about social distancing, wearing masks, disinfecting and limiting group gatherings to smaller numbers due to the spread. of the virus. As the pandemic had an ever-increasing global impact, these measures ultimately impacted schools and workplaces, and teachers and administrators were faced with the reality that classes and meetings had to be held via virtual platforms. We had no idea at the time how long these conditions would last. Two years later, we can now reflect on how far we have come. A significant portion of the pandemic response has occurred on college campuses, and Purdue University quickly emerged as a shining example of how to safely reopen for in-person instruction, in part because of the critical role played by the College of Animal Disease Diagnostic. Veterinary Medicine Laboratory.

When Purdue created its Protect Purdue plan, the need for efficient and accurate testing emerged as a top priority so that testing could be performed on samples from thousands of students, faculty and staff. Testing had to be available to anyone on campus experiencing symptoms, as well as those selected for surveillance testing. The ADDL responded to the need and has been a vital part of the success of the Protect Purdue plan since April 2020.

Erin processes a sample under the hood in the lab while Rebecca watches from behind
Lab technician Erin Christian processes COVID-19 samples in the ADDL’s Molecular Lab while Dr. Rebecca Wilkes, Section Head of the Molecular and Virology Sections, watches.

The ADDL’s journey to testing in support of Protect Purdue began when the lab, which routinely performs tests to identify animal diseases, pursued the necessary certification to perform highly complex tests on human samples. Laboratories are required to obtain Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certification before performing diagnostic testing on human samples. Although the ADDL routinely performs clinical diagnostic tests on thousands of animal samples, obtaining CLIA certification was not something that was done by animal diagnostic labs before this pandemic. But as part of a university known for its persistence, resilience and determination, after submitting the right applications, after every small step in the certification process and proving to state officials that we had received the right training, the ADDL got its CLIA certification. The lab then began conducting COVID-19 testing on thousands of samples in support of the Protect Purdue protocols and Big10 regulations, even expanding its efforts to a local hospital and university. In addition, the ADDL staff made an extra effort to arrange additional services to provide Purdue athletes with rapid test results before the competition.

ADDL’s expertise allowed the lab’s diagnosticians not only to detect COVID-19 but also to differentiate between variants of the virus by sequencing and then sharing this information at the state and national levels. And their work didn’t end there – the ADDL continues to conduct PCR testing and sequencing today.

According to Dr. Kenitra Hendrix, director of the ADDL and clinical associate professor of veterinary diagnostic microbiology, the lab has performed sequencing on a total of just over 1,200 samples since August 2021. The total number of PCR tests performed as part of the COVID-19 testing effort exceeded 212,300 this week. “The ADDL is prepared for large amounts of testing during disease outbreaks,” says Dr. hendrix. “We have the trained staff, the right equipment, the necessary lab workflow and established testing protocols. A rapid diagnostic response is critical for decision-making authorities in times of crisis. The limitation and control of the disease depends on these test results. We were able to apply our high-impact disease testing capabilities to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic as of April 2020.”

A Protect Purdue review report published by the university found that overall the university was more efficient, effective and responsive in helping ensure the safety of its students, faculty and staff during the pandemic, benefiting from the tests that test the ADDL was able to perform thanks to the CLIA certification. Perhaps the most exciting news since then is that the lab recently went through the CLIA recertification process. This success is critical as the lab is able to conduct PCR testing on new COVID-19 cases and track the progression of the virus through new variants using sequencing technology, even if the pandemic appears to be over. to disappear.

The ADDL could not have achieved such outstanding performance without the tremendous expertise and dedication of its team members. Congratulations to the ADDL on receiving CLIA recertification and thanks to all the faculty, staff and students who have made it their mission to help protect Purdue.

Madeline Brod, intern PVM Communication | pvmnews@purdue.edu

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