Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory earns reaccreditation

William Laegreid, professor and head of the University of Wyoming Department of Veterinary Science
William Laegreid, professor and head of the Department of Veterinary Sciences

The Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory (WSVL) in Laramie has achieved full accreditation for its work to diagnose potentially high-stakes animal diseases in the Cowboy State.

An eight-month review by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians culminated in March with recognition that personnel, practices, equipment, and facilities meet the highest professional standards. Reaccreditation is required every five years.

Heading the WSVL is William Laegreid, professor and head of the Department of Veterinary Sciences, of which the laboratory is part.

He pointed out someone is on the job 365 days a year.

“These are dedicated, hard-working people,” Laegreid says of the more than 30 faculty and staff members and approximately 25-30 university student workers.

The WSVL operates at the intersection of health, disease, and mortality of wildlife, domestic animals, and humans. Staff members and student employees conduct animal blood tests and biopsies and analyze carcasses, organs, and tissue samples. The need for a diagnosis may also lead them to test environmental samples such as forage, feed, water, and bedding.

In 2015, the WSVL handled 21,420 cases.

Investigations could be prompted by an aborted calf, elk found dead, suspected chronic wasting disease in a hunter’s kill, or the sudden loss of a companion animal. The lab also performs health screening tests. Each day, on average, 80 to 100 cases are received by the WSVL.

Laegreid said what all cases have in common is someone needs an answer.

As important to the WSVL mission as diagnosis are animal disease research and education for veterinarians, students, and others with a stake in animal health.

WSVL reports findings to veterinarians, pet owners, hunters, show ring participants, livestock operators, the Wyoming Livestock Board, the Wyoming Department of Health, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, which maintains a separate but integrated laboratory in the building.

High-consequence diseases may be reported to the Centers for Disease Control and the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The WSVL also produces an annual report for the governor and others as mandated by state statute.

Funding comes from fees, grants, and contracts and through the University of Wyoming and the USDA programs for foreign animal disease investigations and eradication.

Laegreid notes the WSVL works with 60 mammal species, plus birds, reptiles, and fish, which “keeps it interesting.”

For more information, contact Laegreid at (307) 766-9929 or wlaegreid@uwyo.edu.