Ky. veterinary diagnostic labs provide valuable services

Published 6:29 am Monday, March 19, 2018

Kentucky has two veterinary labs that support the animal industries with diagnostic medical testing services — the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at the University of Kentucky in Lexington and Murray State University’s Breathitt Veterinary Center in Hopkinsville. Craig Carter is the director of the UK VDL, while Debbie Reed is the director of the BVC. Their goal is to provide services to improve the health of your animals.

The UK VDL and BVC are both full-service veterinary diagnostic labs, accredited for all animal species. Services range from diagnostic and regulatory testing to full necropsy (autopsy). If your farm experiences a disease problem in one or more animals or deaths, the UK VDL can run laboratory tests at the request of your veterinarian to help identify the cause. For more serious or puzzling health issues, you can request an epidemiological field investigation.

The UK VDL website,, lists their fee schedule, what tests they offer, and other helpful information. Periodically, they notice an increase in certain diseases or syndromes and publish an animal health bulletin on their website.

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For state and county information, you can follow the epidemiology information link from the main page, it will show you an interactive map of Kentucky. Simply scroll your cursor over your county, and you can see what diseases the labs have diagnosed in your county in the past 30, 60 or 90 days. It will not tell you addresses or farm names as they keep all identifying information strictly confidential; but it will tell you the types of diseases that currently are in your county and in surrounding counties. This will help you design a sound vaccination and preventive medicine program for your herd.

The BVC website is

With spring, many disease problems arise in cattle, some of which can be prevented by vaccination. For example, in 2006 the UK VDL detected a high incidence of blackleg deaths in cattle around Eastern Kentucky. An awareness campaign was mounted to encourage cattle producers to vaccinate their animals. As a result, the incidence of the disease, based on laboratory data, has been minimal ever since, saving the cattle industry an estimated $500,000 each year.

Many vaccines are available on the market for use in cattle in the United States. Producers must base their decision of whether or not to use any of these products on the presence of a disease on a particular farm, the seasonality of disease, management and risk factors. The Kentucky’s veterinary diagnostic labs can assist you and your veterinarian in vaccine selection by confirming digestive, neurological, respiratory, parasitic and other diseases on your premises.

The mission of the UK VDL is to develop and apply state-of-the-art diagnostic methodology to improve animal health and marketability, to protect the public health and to assist in the preservation of the human-animal bond through the principles of One Health. The UK VDL is fully accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians.

For more information on about using the labs’ services, contact the Bell County Cooperative Extension Service.

Stacy White is the Bell County extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. Educational programs of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin. Source: Craig Carter, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Lab director.