Dr. Reddy Bommineni. Photo courtesy of Florida Department of Agriculture Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Florida’s newly renovated animal disease lab heralds a renewed customer-driven focus to serve the state’s owners of companion and food animals with world-class laboratory services.

Representing the only state-owned lab of its type, the Bronson Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (BADDL) employs 40 people who test for, diagnose, investigate, and monitor animal pests and disease. The lab serves veterinarians, farmers, common consumers and businesses throughout Florida who own pets, livestock and even exotic animals. The lab carries the equipment and expertise to perform 153 different types of tests and conduct an average of 326 test per day with higher accuracy and quality than ever before on its newly renovated campus in Kissimmee.

“There are two main reasons we do what we do,” says Dr. Reddy Bommineni, chief of the Bureau of Diagnostic Laboratory for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “The first is to protect our food supply and the second is the ‘One Health’ concept, or prevention of diseases that can affect people.”

The lab stands poised and ready to help.

Service Mantra

From bacteriology to virology, the lab divides itself into about 10 sections of testing focuses, explained at freshfromflorida.com/BADDL.

“Our goal is to provide a comprehensive service that includes testing and the advice clients get from us,” Bommineni says. “The last two years, we really focused on customer service. It doesn’t matter if it’s a backyard companion animal or organized animal agriculture.”

If a pet dies, the lab can perform a necropsy (the animal term for autopsy) to determine the cause. If Disney’s Animal Kingdom or Busch Gardens needs a test performed on an ailing giraffe, the lab can help. If a cow becomes strangely ill on a Florida beef farm, technicians can test, diagnose the cause, and give advice on how to treat and contain the illness.

State Veterinarian Dr. Michael Short touts the lab’s greater accuracy and faster turnaround times as significant in disease surveillance. The lab also collaborates with a nationwide network of accredited labs during emergency disease situations. To boot, the lab offers competitive pricing for testing and shipping.

“I’m really passionate about serving the citizens of Florida and doing a better job for the agriculture community,” Short says, “We have a huge agriculture industry in Florida and a diverse animal population. We will continue to work hard to provide the services needed by the animal owners and agriculture industries in the state.”

Photo courtesy of Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

New and Improved

The BADDL dons an alphabet soup of accreditations that no other Florida lab can collectively claim, including AADLD, NAHLN and Vet-LIRN. In short, those acronyms bestow the state’s lab the authority to test for anything from dog illnesses to high-consequence diseases like foreign-borne foot and mouth disease that could devastate Florida’s livestock farms and the domestic meat supply.

In fall 2017, the 60-year-old facility completed $2 million in renovations, which modernized the building, its equipment and technology, expanded the lab’s testing capabilities, and improved the lab’s speed and accuracy.

Soon, services will expand again. By spring 2018, construction begins on an additional building, an $11.4 million project that promises to bring more disease-testing capabilities and a strengthened emphasis on “One Health.” The concept focuses on the complex health and disease interactions between people, animals, and the environment.

In that spirit, the new building will bring additional testing capacities for rabies, West Nile virus, salmonella, and other diseases contractible by both man and beast. The addition also will expand upon the lab’s effort to rebrand itself with a significant focus on customer service.

“BADDL is committed to providing superior customer service and is Florida’s animal disease diagnostic laboratory,” says Erica Field, assistant director of the Division of Animal Industry. “We are here to serve our animal industry when they need us most.”

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