The Plum Island Animal Disease Laboratory. Page: 1
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The Plum Island
Animal Disease Laboratory
The opening of new facilities of the Plum Island
Animal Disease Laboratory, Plum Island, N. Y., in 1956
initiated an extensive research program in the United
States on dangerous foreign animal diseases. The laboratory
is operated under special authorization of
Congress to develop broader knowledge of how to combat
contagious diseases that might be introduced into
this country and threaten the livestock industry.
Protection against the introduction of foreign diseases
is provided by the Federal inspection and quarantine
service at borders and ports of entry. However,
with increasing use of fast transportation, diseases of
any country in the world are only a few hours away
from our livestock population. It is impossible to
guarantee that all dangerous foreign animal diseases
will be kept out indefinitely. The best defense is a
complete program of preparedness based on scientific
research in methods of diagnosis, prevention, control,
Major emphasis of the Plum Island Laboratory research
program is on foot-and-mouth disease, considered
one of the most contagious foreign animal
diseases, and one of the most serious in its effects.
The last outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in this
country was in 1929, but the disease exists throughout
most of the other major livestock producing countries
of the world. Recent outbreaks in Mexico and Canada
serve as a reminder of the constant threat of this dread
United States scientists have worked in a number of
foreign laboratories in cooperative research programs
on foot-and-mouth disease. The program on Plum
Island is the first study of foot-and-mouth disease to
be conducted in the United States.
Other diseases, similar in outward appearances to
foot-and-mouth disease, are being studied to the extent
necessary to improve techniques of differential diagnosis
(differentiation between similar diseases in making
an accurate diagnosis). Additional foreign diseases
requiring special safety facilities will be included
in the research program.
Because of the contagious nature of the diseases
under study, the safety precautions incorporated in the
Laboratory and the regulations under which the work
is carried out are the most rigid ever developed among
research institutions throughout the world. The purpose
of these precautions is (1) to protect the livestock
industry from animal diseases not existing in this
country by preventing the escape of disease-causing
agents from the laboratory buildings and (2) to protect
the experimental studies by preventing the spread
of disease agents under study from one area of the
research buildings to another, or the accidental introduction
of diseases not under study.
LOCATION ON PLUM ISLAND
The location of the Laboratory itself is actually a
part of the safety precautions. The Congress, in authorizing
the establishment of the Laboratory, specified
that it be located on a coastal island, separated from
Virus of foot-and-mouth disease used for research at the
Plum Island Laboratory was shipped from England.
The photograph shows the precautions that were taken
to prevent its escape in transit. The virus was sealed
in glass ampules, packed with cotton in sealed
double-can containers, and placed in a larger stainless
steel container. This was placed in a canvas insulated
bag and locked inside a strong wooden box.
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United States. Agricultural Research Service. Animal Disease and Parasite Research Branch. The Plum Island Animal Disease Laboratory., book, September 1956; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1577/m1/3/: accessed February 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.