Animal health lab upgrades would protect industry

(AP) Due in part to the avian influenza virus that led to the death of millions of turkeys and chickens across the country last summer, South Dakota is laying the groundwork to upgrade its only animal health laboratory, a move that veterinary officials say is crucial in helping the state’s big agriculture industry weather future outbreaks.

Veterinary and agriculture officials say though the Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory in Brookings responded quickly and effectively to the bird flu – even helping labs in Minnesota and Iowa – the nearly 50-year-old facility lacks the space and design to handle new outbreaks and the security measures to effectively protect researchers.