Service Area Strategic Plan
4/23/2014   6:33 am
Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (301)
Service Area 1 of 1
Diagnostic Services (301 531 02)

The Regional Animal Health Laboratory System (RAHLS) consists of five regional animal health laboratories geographically distributed around the Commonwealth such that all potential clients are within two to three hours of at least one facility.

Diagnostic services provides necropsy (animal autopsy), diagnostic microbiology, dairy microbiology, parasitology, serology, molecular testing, histopathology and food safety testing.

Customer service is enhanced by each facility being staffed with professional personnel to provide the highest quality of veterinary laboratory diagnostic services directly to the client.
Background Information
Mission Alignment and Authority
  • Describe how this service supports the agency mission
    The regional animal health laboratory system assists the citizens of Virginia by providing veterinary and food safety diagnostic services that align with the Agency’s mission of promoting the economic growth and development of Virginia agriculture.
  • Describe the Statutory Authority of this Service
    Title 3.2, Chapter 60 Livestock and Poultry, Section 3.2-5903 mandates the operation of a laboratory system for the diagnosis of diseases of livestock and poultry as well as for other purposes which may be determined by the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

    In addition, testing is performed that supports the Virginia Meat and Poultry Products Inspection Act; in support of regulations pertaining to disease monitoring and control administered by the Office of Veterinary Services; and regulations governing the production, handling and processing of milk for manufacturing purposes and establishing minimum standards for certain dairy products to be used for human food.
Agency Customer Group Customer Customers served annually Potential annual customers
Agribusinesses, Ag Cooperatives and Membership Organizations Agribusiness Companies 100 125
Federal agencies Federal agencies 3 3
Livestock producers, dealers, markets Livestock producers 20,000 20,000
State & Local Governments Local Animal Control Agencies 216 216
State & Local Governments Other State Agencies 5 5
State & Local Governments Other VDACS Programs 2 2
Veterinary practitioners and clinics Veterinary practitioners and clinics 700 800

Anticipated Changes To Agency Customer Base
As with agriculture in general, over time there has been and will continue to be fewer traditional livestock producers, but this has been more than offset by an increase in law enforcement work (animal control agencies), food safety (USDA, FDA, Office of Dairy & Foods, Office of Meat & Poultry Services), exotic and companion animals, Virginia Department of Health (arbovirus surveillance) and non-traditional livestock producers (camelids, goats, aquaculture). Because of these services, potentially every citizen of the Commonwealth is a customer.
Partner Description
[None entered]
Products and Services
  • Factors Impacting the Products and/or Services:
    Submissions are generated by the livestock and poultry producers and their veterinarians, so the volume of submissions is somewhat variable, depending on the overall animal agriculture economy.
  • Anticipated Changes to the Products and/or Services
    As the types of diagnostic testing available become more varied and sophisticated (e.g. molecular or “DNA” testing), the value of such testing also rises to producers.
  • Listing of Products and/or Services
    • Animal Diagnostic Testing Services: The RAHLS offers diagnostic services to individual livestock and poultry producers, veterinary practitioners, and companion animal owners. Some of these services are not available on a routine basis from any other source. Virginia livestock and poultry producers benefit by having convenient, economical, expert advice on contagious diseases which can lead to losses through death and/or reduced productivity of animals. Non-agricultural residents of the Commonwealth benefit from the rapid diagnosis and control of diseases that can be transmitted to humans such as E. coli, Salmonellosis, Brucellosis and Campylobacteriosis. In cooperation with the Department of Consolidated Laboratory Services (the human health counterpart to the RAHLS), the RAHLS facilitates the diagnosis of rabies by removing heads from suspect animals.
    • Animal Regulatory Program Testing Services: The VDACS RAHLS also provides regulatory testing (brucellosis, Swine Pseudorabies, Johne’s disease, Equine infectious anemia, etc.) so that producers can comply with state, federal and international requirements for sale or movement of animals and animal products. These tests perform an important surveillance function in the control of economically significant animal diseases and public health threats such as Exotic Newcastle Disease, Avian Influenza, West Nile virus, Bovine Tuberculosis, brucellosis and pseudorabies. Because of increased trade requirements, these tests are becoming more important, and more varied (e.g. the establishment of a Johne’s control program).
    • Food Safety Testing Services: Regulatory testing is performed in support of the program in the Office of Dairy & Foods that permits interstate shipment of milk produced in Virginia and assures an unadulterated milk supply. Testing services are provided for the Office of Meat & Poultry Services generic E. coli standard, required in state inspected processing plants. Additional testing services are performed for the Office of Food Safety & Security and the Office of Meat & Poultry Services to certify water supplies. Because of current heightened concerns, food safety testing work is increasing in type and volume.
  • Financial Overview
    [Nothing entered]
  • Financial Breakdown
    FY 2011    FY 2012
      General Fund     Nongeneral Fund        General Fund     Nongeneral Fund  
    Base Budget $2,200,493 $1,409,053    $2,200,493 $1,409,053
    Change To Base -$39,543 $0    -$39,543 $0
    Service Area Total   $2,160,950  $1,409,053     $2,160,950  $1,409,053 
Human Resources
  • Human Resources Overview
    [Nothing entered]
  • Human Resource Levels
    Effective Date      
    Total Authorized Position level 0    
    Vacant Positions 0    
    Current Employment Level 0.0    
    Non-Classified (Filled)    
    Full-Time Classified (Filled)    breakout of Current Employment Level
    Part-Time Classified (Filled)    
    Faculty (Filled)    
    Contract Employees    
    Total Human Resource Level 0.0   = Current Employment Level + Wage and Contract Employees
  • Factors Impacting HR
    [Nothing entered]
  • Anticipated HR Changes
    [Nothing entered]
Service Area Objectives
  • Protect and enhance the economic viability of Virginia's animal agriculture industries by provided accurate, timely and accountable testing services for diseases of economic and public health significance.
    Objective Description
    The mission of the VDACS Animal Health Laboratory System to provide quality diagnostic and regulatory testing of specimens from animals, raw foods and limited environmental origin to the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia in a timely manner and at reasonable cost. These testing services provide assistance to producers, regulatory offices, and private veterinarians in diagnosing disease problems, are a vital link in the monitoring and surveillance for both animal and human diseases of regulatory concern (e.g. Brucellosis, Tuberculosis, Salmonella, E. coli) and provide certification of animals and their products necessary for interstate and international export.
    Alignment to Agency Goals
    • Agency Goal: Provide services that prevent or minimize the impact of emergency agricultural infestations, animal disease outbreaks, foodborne illness outbreaks, and natural and manmade disasters.
      Comment: Aligns with long term objective # 7 – Protects the public’s safety and security, ensuring a fair and effective system of justice and providing a prepared response to emergencies and disasters of all kinds.
    Objective Strategies
    • Operate the five Regional Animal Health Laboratories.
    • Aid in the prevention and control of livestock and poultry diseases for Virginia’s animal industries by adding at least one new testing service per year through June 30, 2012.
    • Aid in the prevention and control of livestock and poultry diseases for Virginia's animal industries by meeting requirements and applying for accreditation by the American Association of Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) by June 30, 2012.
    • Continue the implementation of a state-wide Quality Control Program for the regional animal health laboratory system in accordance with the AAVLD's Essential Requirements for an Accredited Laboratory Guidelines by completing level III documents (individuals laboratory standard operating procedures) through June 30, 2012.
    • Work with vendors to integrate the Office of Laboratory Services Veterinary Laboratory Information Management System with at least two existing automated testing methods through June 30, 2012.
    Link to State Strategy
    • nothing linked
    Objective Measures
    • Test turnaround time.
      Measure Class:
      Measure Type:
      Measure Frequency:
      Preferred Trend:
      Measure Baseline Value:

      Measure Baseline Description: Average turnaround time in FY09 was 4.8 days.

      Measure Target Value:

      Measure Target Description: Test turnaround time will be 4.8 days or less for each year of the biennium.

      Data Source and Calculation: Test data taken from the OLS laboratory information management system (LIMS), which records, stores and tabulates all laboratory submission data.

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