New pathology team for veterinary lab

A new group of veterinary pathologists, hired at the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute (EMAI), Camden, is now undergoing extensive training.

To ensure they are capable of offering the State world’s best practice, the pathologists have been supported by investment in new state of the art laboratory equipment.

Five pathologists will build on services already provided by EMAI’s veterinary laboratory to its farming clients, provide for the State’s ongoing diagnostic requirements, and enhance EMAI’S capacity to deal with future animal disease emergencies.

Dr Les Gabor returned from an academic post in Canada to the newly created position of laboratory leader, attracted by its capacity building and training focus.

Dr Gabor holds a PhD in veterinary pathology and a specialist certification in anatomical pathology.

Four additional pathologists were hired to complement two long-serving experts, Dr Rod Reece and Dr Steve Hum, whose reputations in dealing with diseases in livestock at the veterinary laboratory are well established.

The other new team members are Mel Gabor, who returned to pathology after completing a PhD in medical immunology; Effie Lee, graduate from the University of Queensland with extensive mixed animal diagnostic experience; Zoe Spiers, who recently completed a PhD in oyster pathology; and Andrew Thompson, a former district veterinarian with extensive production animal experience.

“The team will diagnose samples submitted by producers faster and improve turnaround times to tell them what is affecting their stock,” Primary Industries Minister, Ian Macdonald, said.

They will also carry out more detailed investigation into production animal health issues.

Their skills and upgraded laboratory capacity, combined with other EMAI laboratories like virology, will mean emerging, exotic and notifiable diseases in addition to the full range of known livestock diseases can be better covered.

They will also chip away at a worldwide labour problem.

Dr Gabor said for some years, particularly highlighted during and after last year’s equine influenza outbreak, senior management within DPI and throughout the veterinary livestock community, had concerns about replacing the aging population of veterinary pathologists.

“Worldwide it has become a significant challenge to hire trained pathologists, as most young graduates want to work in the cities, where the money is in small animal practices,” Dr Gabor said.

He said in terms of equipment, NSW DPI has invested in a new 10 head teaching microscope, new digital capture technology, and upgraded all microscopes.

Each day the team meets for a diagnostic session on the 10 head microscope.

“There have also been significant equipment investments in the laboratories – most notably in the fields of real time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), histology upgrades, and equipment in the bacteriology and serology labs,” Dr Gabor said

The new pathologists will train for membership of the Australian College of Veterinary Science – as case managers it will be desirable for them to hold the Australian hallmark expected by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA).

The three to four year goal is for some of the team to become accredited specialists in the laboratory via the American College of Veterinary Pathology.

EMAI is the NSW Centre for Animal and Plant Biosecurity.