The NAHLN is a cooperative effort between two USDA agencies—the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture ( NIFA; formerly CSREES)—and the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians ( www.aavld.org). It is a multifaceted network comprised of sets of laboratories that focus on different diseases, using common testing methods and data standards to process diagnostic requests and share information.

At the Federal level, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) serves as the national veterinary diagnostic reference and confirmatory laboratory. NVSL coordinates activities, participates in methods validation, and provides training, proficiency testing, assistance, materials, and prototypes for diagnostic tests.

The State/University laboratories in the NAHLN perform routine diagnostic tests for endemic animal diseases as well as targeted surveillance and response testing for foreign animal diseases. State/University laboratories also participate in the development of new assay methodologies.

Networking these resources provides an extensive infrastructure of facilities, equipment, and personnel that are geographically accessible no matter where disease strikes. The laboratories have the capability and capacity to conduct nationwide surveillance testing for the early detection of an animal disease outbreak. They are able to test large numbers of samples rapidly during an outbreak and to demonstrate freedom from disease after eradication.

NAHLN Mission/Vision

NAHLN Strategic Plan

History of the NAHLN

Key elements of the NAHLN system include:

  • Increased and more flexible capacity for laboratory support of routine and emergency animal disease diagnosis, including bioterrorism events;
  • Standardized, rapid diagnostic techniques used at state, regional, and national levels;
  • Secure communication, alert, and reporting systems;
  • Modern equipment and experienced personnel;
  • National training, proficiency testing, and quality assurance;
  • Upgraded facilities that meet biocontainment and physical security requirements;
  • Regional and national animal health emergency training exercises (scenario tests) to test and evaluate the communication and reporting protocols of the network.

The NAHLN also contributes to wider societal goals, such as:

  • Protecting human health by decreasing the risk of zoonotic diseases (those that can affect animals and humans),
  • Protecting animal health to decrease environmental risk and negative economic impact to producers,
  • Protecting the health of domestic and wild animals by lessening the risk of disease transmission between wildlife and livestock,
  • Increasing consumer confidence in the Nation's food supply, and
  • Maintaining confidence and positive relationships among global trading partners.

NAHLN laboratories are trained, proficiency tested, and follow standardized testing protocols for the following diseases:

  • African Swine Fever (ASF)
  • Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)
  • Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)
  • Classical Swine Fever (CSF)
  • Exotic Newcastle Disease (END)
  • Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)
  • Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA)
  • Influenza A Virus in Avian (IAV-A)
  • Influenza A in Swine (IAV-S)
  • Pseudorabies Virus (PRV)
  • Scrapie
  • Spring Viremia of Carp (SVC)
  • Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV)
  • Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS)





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