Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at ISU helping speed up COVID-19 testing

A laboratory technician prepares COVID-19 patient samples for semi-automatic testing at Northwell Health Labs, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Lake Success, N.Y. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved faster testing protocols as the viral outbreak continues to spread worldwide. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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AMES, Iowa (KCRG) - The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Iowa State University is helping to speed up the testing of COVID-19 samples, due to the rapid spread of the virus.

This is to help the State Hygenic Laboratory that is located at the University of Iowa. Between the two labs, this will help them be able to test simultaneously. The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) has shared its methods for testing to help with the analysis.

In a statement released Thursday, officials with the lab the VDL is known for its state of the art testing for infectious agents in livestock, poultry, and pets. They normally test 90,000 cases per year.

“This means the hygienic lab is in a much better position to ramp up testing as needed,” Dr. Karen Harmon, clinical associate professor in the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, said. “To have the opportunity to help a human testing lab in this way has been very rewarding for us.”

VDL Executive Director Pat Halbur stated that the lab has helped diagnose different diseases in veterinary medicine and want to use those skills for human medicine.

“It’s our mission to protect animal and public health, and we want to do everything we can to assist during this global pandemic,” Halbur said. “This is a good example of Iowans coming together to find solutions to our most pressing problems.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Economic Development Authority worked together to get these two labs to collaborate to help the testing of COVID-19.

Mike Pentella, the director of the State Hygienic Laboratory said, "We're incredibly grateful to Governor Reynolds, IEDA and Iowa State for helping us supplement our equipment inventory. With our staff working around the clock, this will allow us to deliver results for more tests more quickly, allowing for the best possible outcomes for Iowans."