aquatic animals. There is no equivalent federal responsibility and only an informal federal animal health infrastructure for addressing a zoonotic disease outbreak transmitted by a nonlivestock species.
State and academic veterinary diagnostic laboratories play a central role in diagnosing diseases such as monkeypox. As the monkeypox outbreak illustrates, the broad capabilities that exist in state and academic veterinary diagnostic laboratories and other local animal health infrastructure are currently underutilized and underconsulted by federal agencies and national organizations and by the public health community.
The monkeypox outbreak also points to weaknesses in the veterinary laboratory infrastructure in the United States. Far too few biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) laboratories and ABSL-3 animal facilities exist in the state laboratory system, universities, and industries (AAVMC, personal communication and informal survey, 2004). Rapid assays for zoonotic agents, whether endemic or exotic, have not been validated in animals. Assays validated for identification of exotic or bioterrorist agents in human samples (such as the non-variola rapid real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay used for diagnosis of monkeypox) do not have animal species or matrix controls. Further complicating this issue is that no federal agency has a mandate to develop and validate these assays. USDA is fully committed with livestock disease assay development and validation, and CDC is focused on development of additional assays for the broad array of high consequence pathogens affecting humans. The diagnosis of overlap agents in animals has fallen through the cracks. Good laboratory practice includes training and proficiency testing of laboratory staff in use of equipment and specific protocols, but neither the Laboratory Response Network for bioterrorism nor the National Animal Health Laboratory Network currently has responsibility for ensuring that these tenets of a quality system are in place in veterinary diagnostic laboratories. In summary, the monkeypox outbreak revealed significant gaps in prevention, problems with responsibilities, and coordination of response and in laboratory capacity, especially concerning delays in the development and validation of diagnostic assays.
The diagnosis of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Canada and the United States in 2003 (see Box 3-4) and in 2005 carried with it a message that North America was not immune to the socioeconomic effects of what is commonly known as mad cow disease. Disruptions in the