home pregnancy kits, to more sophisticated assay formats, such as PCR. These formats are common, readily available, and standardized for the public health community, but not so for the community of veterinary laboratories and clinics. Nanotechnology, the ability to build at a scale of a billionth of a meter, is being described as the next technical revolution and may allow the development of electronic circuitry 1,000 times smaller than current microchips. Among others, one application for human and animal health includes the potential for embedded medical monitoring (chips inserted under the skin).
The nation’s animal health laboratory system is composed of federal, state, university, and commercial laboratories. The federal component is referred to as the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL). The NVSL, which is part of USDA-APHIS, provides diagnostic services through two testing facilities located in Ames, Iowa, and the Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (FADDL) on Plum Island, New York. These laboratories perform the following functions: oversee and conduct laboratory testing in conjunction with federally mandated eradication programs for diseases such as brucellosis, pseudorabies, and tuberculosis; screen samples for the presence of exotic diseases at the request of federal and state regulatory staff; assist in investigating unusual agricultural animal disease occurrence in the United States; perform tests to meet animal export requirements; conduct testing for routine support of national and state animal health management; and serve as reference laboratories for certain infectious diseases (USDA, 2004b). However, the vast majority of routine diagnostic and animal health management analyses on domestic animals in the nation are conducted daily by state and university-affiliated veterinary diagnostic laboratories. The same is true for wildlife diseases. With few exceptions (for example, the U.S. Geological Survey’s [USGS] National Wildlife Health Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin; the Southeast Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study [SECWDS] in Athens, Georgia, which is a federal-state partnership; the FWS Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon; and scattered state wildlife agency-affiliated laboratories), routine investigation of wildlife diseases in the United States occurs in state/university diagnostic laboratories. Diagnostic work on zoo and exotic animal species is performed by laboratories associated with large municipal zoos and wildlife parks and by private zoo consultants who generally are board-certified pathologists. State, university, and commer-