Monkeypox Testing Site
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jan Williams, College of Veterinary
Molly Portz, Academic Health Center,
U of MN Veterinary Diagnostic Lab Chosen by CDC as Monkeypox Testing
U of MN is
only U.S. lab approved to test animals for virus
MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (July 31, 2003) - The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today that the
University of Minnesota's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) was chosen as
the national testing site to screen for the monkeypox virus in animals. The CDC
has been handling the testing since the outbreak in early June. The VDL has the
same state-of-the-art molecular technology as the CDC labs, enabling the
University lab to accommodate the high volume of testing samples.
The University is the first veterinary
diagnostic lab to be selected as a full member of the CDC's Laboratory Response
Network (LRN). This inclusion gives the University access to CDC protocols,
immediate emerging disease information, and coordinated communications.
"Membership in the CDC's LRN provides the
University a great opportunity to rapidly diagnose and prevent diseases
transmissible from animals to people," said laboratory director Jim Collins,
Another factor contributing to the selection
is that the VDL has the appropriate facility classification, Biosafety Level 3.
It has the required airflow inside the lab to contain the virus and prevent
contamination of other samples or laboratory areas.
The VDL is working in partnership with the
Minnesota Department of Health in development of the testing program to meet
the national demand for animal testing. As part of the current protocol for
handling suspect animal specimens, pet owners and veterinarians are instructed
to contact their state department of health, which then transports the
specimens to the CDC for testing. The state departments of health and
veterinary diagnostic laboratories will now send the animal specimens to the
University. Instructions for safe transport are found on the CDC web site at www.cdc.gov.
"Minnesota is in a great position to
highlight our veterinary diagnostic capabilities nationally and demonstrate the
importance of an effective collaboration between public health and veterinary
laboratories," said Norman Crouch, Ph.D., director of the Minnesota Public
Although no recent cases of monkeypox in
humans have been reported, appropriate testing must be conducted on all of the
nearly 800 animals in the April 9 shipment from Africa. The shipment included
the infected Gambian rat responsible for the recent outbreak.
The University of Minnesota
College of Veterinary Medicine improves the health and well-being of animals
and people by providing high-quality veterinary training, conducting
leading-edge research, delivering innovative veterinary services, and leading
and supporting critical public health initiatives. For more information, visit www.cvm.umn.edu.
The Academic Health Center is home
to the University of Minnesota's seven health professional schools and colleges
as well as several health-related centers and institutes. Founded in 1851, the
University is one of the oldest and largest land grant institutions in the
country. The AHC prepares the new health professionals who improve the health
of communities, discover and deliver new treatments and cures, and strengthen
the health economy.