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Agricultural News

OSU Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab Praised For It's COVID-19 Testing Capacity

Fri, 24 Apr 2020 17:41:56 CDT

OSU Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab Praised For It's COVID-19 Testing Capacity The staff at the Oklahoma State University Animal Diagnostic Laboratory are among the many unsung heroes in the continuing fight against the COVID-19 outbreak. Their efforts were on full display Friday as Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays was invited by Oklahoma Sec. of Agriculture Blayne Arthur to join a small group to tour the Stillwater facilities and show appreciation for the lab's rapid and extensive COVID-19 testing capacity.

The OSU lab is one of only three such animal disease diagnostic labs in the country to join the fight against COVID-19.

Ron talked with Dr. Jerry Ritchey, interim director of the lab, which is part of the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Ritchey explained the lab's structure and how they were able to rapidly gear up for COVID-19 testing.

The lab, best known for conducting tests in agriculture and companion animals, is known as the state's flagship diagnostic laboratory, and is often referred to simply as ODL (Oklahoma Diagnostic Laboratory).

Ritchey emphasized their main mission is animal health.

We focus on diseases in animal production and diseases that can be transmitted to people (for example, rabies), Ritchey said.

He said they get thousands of animal samples every day from throughout Oklahoma and around the country.

This capacity, established initially to handle large herd outbreaks, gave them the ability to handle large volumes of COVID-19 tests.

Human labs just don't have this capacity, Ritchey said.

The OSU lab started COVID-19 testing March 31 and by April 24 had successfully handled over 12,000 tests, making them the largest testing capacity lab in the state.

We can get test results in most cases back in less than 24 hours, Ritchey said.

Ritchey was quick to point out they could not have done the testing without the help of many people. He singled out the OSU administration, Gov. Stitt's office, Oklahoma State Department of Health and dozens of volunteers from the OSU College of Agriculture and College of Engineering.

"We have not been able to do this on our own, "Ritchey said. "This has truly been an Oklahoma State Cowboy team effort."

Even with the large numbers of COVID-19 tests, Ritchey made it clear they have not ignored their main mission.

"We have phenomenal staff," Ritchey said. "We have not forgotten, despite the importance of COVID testing, that our first mission is the animal health in Oklahoma. We have maintained our animal testing capacity and continue to provide the quality that our stake holders expect."

You can hear more of Ron's interview with Dr. Ritchey by clicking on the listen bar below.



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