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USDA Research at the
Plum Island Animal Disease Center

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USDA Mission at Plum Island

Microbiologist examines pig inoculated with disarmed virus for a studyAt the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, USDA is responsible for research and diagnosis to protect the nation's animal industries and exports from catastrophic economic losses caused by foreign animal disease (FAD) agents accidentally or deliberately introduced into the U.S.

In the U.S., certain highly infectious foreign animal diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease, can be studied only at Plum Island.

USDA's mission at Plum Island is carried out jointly by scientists and support staff of the department's Agricultural Research Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. ARS is responsible for the research; APHIS, for diagnosis.

Together, the two agencies’ scientists work to—

  • Develop new strategies to prevent and control foreign or emerging animal disease epidemics through a better understanding of the nature of infectious organisms; their pathogenesis in susceptible animals; the host immune responses; the development of novel vaccines; and the development and improvement of diagnostic tests.
  • Conduct diagnostic investigations of suspected cases of foreign or emerging animal diseases in the United States, or in countries abroad through cooperation with animal health international organizations.
  • Test imported animals and animal products to assure they are free of foreign animal disease agents.
  • Assess risks involved in importation of animals and animal products from countries where epidemic FADs occur.
  • Produce and maintain materials used in diagnostic tests for foreign animal diseases.
  • Test and evaluate vaccines for foreign animal diseases, and maintain the North American foot-and-mouth disease vaccine bank.
  • Train veterinarians and animal health professionals in the diagnosis and recognition of foreign animal diseases through courses at PIADC and at other domestic and international locations.


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