Ohio ADDL August Newsletter


Ohio Department of Agriculture   -   AUGUST 2017

In this issue

- Influenza A testing

- WNV in mosquitoes

- Harmful algal blooms

- ADDL Interns

Contact us

Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory

8995 East Main Street

Reynoldsburg, OH 43068

Phone: (614) 728-6220

Fax: (614 ) 728-6310



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Excluding the following holidays:

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ADDL Provides Same Day Testing for Influenza in Swine

Dr. Beverly Byrum, PhD, DVM, ADDL Laboratory Director

Melanie Prarat, MS, ADDL Virology Section

Influenza is a respiratory disease caused by type A influenza viruses that regularly cause outbreaks in pigs. Influenza is present at low levels in pigs throughout the world, and is monitored by the voluntary USDA Swine Influenza Surveillance Program, although it is not a reportable or regulated disease.


Like human influenza viruses, there are different subtypes and strains of influenza viruses in pigs. The main influenza viruses circulating in U.S. pigs in recent years are H1N1, H1N2 and H3N2. While H1N1 viruses have been known to circulate among pig populations since at least 1930, H3N2 and H1N2 influenza A viruses did not begin circulating among pigs in the United States until about 1998.


While influenza viruses almost always remain infectious only within their host species, at times infections may spread to other species. Influenza viruses in pigs can occasionally infect people, and human influenza viruses can infect swine. Health organizations use the term "variant" to refer to viruses that are genetically different from what is usually isolated from humans. The description is written as a small "v" after the virus subtype, for example, H3N2v. More information on these variant viruses is available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/swineflu/. 


The ADDL offers same day PCR test results for influenza A samples from swine.  Samples arriving in the laboratory by 11 AM will be reported by 5 PM.  Recommended samples are nasal swabs transported in BHI, viral transport media, or sterile solution (3-5 cc). Samples should be shipped on ice overnight or delivered to the laboratory by courier. Call the ADDL at 614-728-6220 if you have any questions.


Update: West Nile Virus Found in Ohio Mosquitoes

Dr. Jeff Hayes, MS, DVM, ADDL Pathology Section Head

There is an increased incidence of West Nile Virus (WNV)-positive mosquitoes throughout Ohio this summer.  As of July 10, 2017, the Ohio Department of Health Zoonotic Disease Program has already identified 25 WNV-positive mosquito samples in 6 Ohio counties (Franklin - 10, Lorain -2, Lucas - 4, Montgomery -1, Richland -1, and Summit - 7) (see full report here).


The ADDL supports veterinarians’ efforts to recommend vaccination of clients’ horses against WNV, a preventable disease that unfortunately can prove to be fatal in unvaccinated animals.  Horses that have been vaccinated in past years will need an annual booster shot. However, if an owner did not vaccinate their animal in previous years, the horse will need the 2-shot vaccination series within a 3- to 6-week period. The peak season of WNV equine infections in Ohio is rapidly approaching (August, September), so there is still time to vaccinate!


The Ohio ADDL can facilitate serologic testing at NVSL, and has PCR testing capability of blood and tissues, also. Contact the ADDL at 614-728-6220 with any questions regarding WNV testing by serology, PCR, necropsy, and histopathology.


Harmful Algal Blooms

Dr. Diane Gerken, DVM, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Ohio State University 

Blue-green algae blooms, or more correctly referred to as cyanobacterial blooms, in ponds, lakes and standing water are occurring in Ohio again this year which means the potential for serious health effects in large/small animals, wildlife and humans.  Certain cyanobacteria have the potential to produce intracellular toxins –microcystins (a group of similar structured substances) and anatoxins (A being only one of the two types).  Ingestion of microcystins have been reported to result in severe liver disease (clinical signs include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and pale mucous membranes) and sometimes death.  Anatoxin A ingestion results in central nervous system effects (clinical signs include muscle tremors, rigidity, lethargy, respiratory distress and convulsions). Water (or water rinse of obvious hair coat contamination) and gastrointestinal contents (or rumen contents) can be analyzed for microcystins or anatoxin A by submitting the above specimens or whole animal submission for necropsy to the ODA ADDL Pathology Section.


Microcystins are stable for days to weeks in water.  Waters treated with algaecides have the potential to contain more free toxins in the water and therefore are more hazardous. Whether it is a pet or farm animal that is affected, a positive diagnosis via chemical analyses is recommended to verify the cause and to determine the source as soon as possible. If animal exposure to public water was a possible source, please notify the responsible public health official or the Ohio Department of  Health.  If suspected exposure may have been in a backyard or farm pond on private property, submit a water sample to the ODA ADDL Pathology Section. More information and methodologies for detection can be found at the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Harmful Algal Blooms website.

Comparison of water without (left) and with (right) blue-green algae present.

Summer Students at ADDL

Melanie Prarat, MS, ADDL Virology Section 

The ADDL hosts interns throughout the year in each laboratory section.  The Virology section hosted three exceptional interns this summer.  Andrea Lohr and Darien Gordon are both pre-veterinary medicine undergraduates at Findlay University, and Daysha Wells is a current MPH student who will be attending veterinary school at the Ohio State University this fall.  At ADDL, each intern worked at assigned testing areas and was also introduced to other sections including veterinary molecular diagnostics, virology, serology, pathology, and bacteriology.  

Left to Right: Andrea Lohr, Darien Gordon, Daysha Wells