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Construction begins on state poultry lab
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi is one step closer to a better diagnostic facility for the state's $1.5 billion poultry industry.
Groundbreaking for a $500,000 Poultry Research and Diagnostic Laboratory took place on March 18 in Rankin County. Following the construction of this 2,000-square-foot building, officials plan to begin the second phase of the project which will culminate with the construction of a 40,000-square-foot diagnostic facility for all animal species with a total cost of more than $18 million.
"The state has made a commitment to provide and improve services to the poultry industry," said Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck at the ground-breaking ceremonies. "We have funded additional positions at Mississippi State University and authorized the formation and construction of the poultry laboratory."
Before MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine started running a poultry diagnostic lab in Scott County in November 2000, most of the poultry diagnostic work was sent to a private laboratory. MSU moved the poultry laboratory to a leased building in Rankin County last November.
"Diagnostic laboratories provide a level of defense for the residents of Mississippi as well as the animal population," Tuck said. "This new lab is another step forward in the improvement of veterinary diagnostic services available in Mississippi."
Tuck emphasized the economic value of the state's poultry industry. Ranked No. 1 of the state's agricultural commodities, poultry's farm-gate value exceeds $1.5 billion and ranks ahead of forestry ($1.12 billion) and cotton ($527 million). In 2001, the poultry industry in Mississippi employed almost 19,000 people and had a payroll of $413 million.
Dr. John Thomson, dean of MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine, said the high visibility of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, the mad cow disease epidemic in Europe and the recent bio-terrorism attacks have highlighted the need for advanced animal disease research and diagnostic capabilities.
"The long-term, economic value of this laboratory is immeasurable," Thomson said. "Mississippi is fortunate to have legislators who recognize the critical need for Mississippi to have a capable and responsive veterinary diagnostic system."
Dr. Danny Magee, director of the Poultry Research and Diagnostic Laboratory, said the facility will serve as a front line of defense for early diagnoses of health problems that could have dramatic economic impacts on the poultry industry.
"Quick, accurate diagnoses will reduce the negative economic impact of a disease and help protect domestic and foreign markets," he said. "Our goal is to protect the animal industries of Mississippi from any factors that could jeopardize the health and economic well-being of the industries; that would include bio-terrorism and diseases we have not faced in the past."
The laboratory typically is called on to diagnose viruses, parasites and bacterial infections. Companies without veterinarians on staff receive recommendations for treatment.
"We have managed for the short-term, but the present facility is small, was not designed as a laboratory and is inadequate for the long-term needs. The new poultry lab will improve our operational efficiency and management of poultry cases," Magee said.
Contact: Dr. Danny Magee, (601) 932-6771