Plum Island Animal Disease Center


Plum Island Animal Disease Center

The Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) is a United States federal research facility dedicated to the study of foreign animal diseases. Since 1954, the center has had the goal of protecting America's livestock from foreign animal diseases.

Location and description

The center is located on Plum Island, off the northeast coast of Long Island in New York state. During the Spanish-American War, the island was purchased by the government for the construction of Fort Terry, which was later deactivated after World War II and then reactivated in 1952 for the Army Chemical Corps. The center is comprised of 70 buildings (many of them dilapidated) on 840 acres.cite news
title = Bioterrorism Fears Revive Waning Interest In Agricultural Disease Lab on Plum Island
publisher = "The Wall Street Journal"
date = 2002-01-08
url = http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/bioter/bioterrorismplumisland.html
accessdate = 2008-05-17
] cite news
title = Long Island Lab May Do Studies Of Bioterrorism
publisher = "The New York Times"
date = 1999-09-22
url = http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D02EED7163FF931A1575AC0A96F958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2
accessdate = 2008-05-18
]

Plum Island has its own fire department, power plant, and water treatment plant. No wildlife exists on the island.. However, as Plum Island was named an important bird area by the New York Audubon Society, it has successfully attracted different birds, Plum Island had placed osprey nests and bluebird boxes throughout the island and will now add kestrel houses.cite news
title = About Plum Island Animal Disease Center
publisher = "Department of Homeland Security"
date = 2008-12-28
url = http://www.dhs.gov/xres/labs/editorial_0902.shtm
accessdate = 2008-08-04
]

History

In response to disease outbreaks in Mexico and Canada in 1954, the Army gave the island to the Agriculture Department to establish a research center dedicated to the study of foot and mouth disease in cattle.

The island was opened to news media for the first time in 1992. In 1995, the Department of Agriculture was issued a $111,000 fine for storing hazardous chemicals on the island.

Local Long Island activists prevented the poop from expanding to include diseases that affect humans in 2000, which would require a Biosafety Level 4 designation; in 2002, Congress again considered the plan.

The "Wall Street Journal" reported in January 2002 that many scientists and government officials wanted the lab to close, believing that the threat of foot and mouth disease was so remote that the center did not merit its $16.5 million annual budget. In 2002, the Plum Island Animal Disease Center was transferred from the United States Department of Agriculture to the United States Department of Homeland Security.

In 2003, a whistleblower who voiced concerns about safety at the facility was fired by the contractor he worked for. He had discussed his concerns with aides to Senator Hillary Clinton.cite news
title = Plum Island Reports Disease Outbreak
publisher = "The New York Times"
date = 2004-08-22
url = http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C01E1D6113FF931A1575BC0A9629C8B63
accessdate = 2008-05-17
] A National Labor Relations Board judge found that the contractor, North Fork Services, had discriminated against the whistleblower.

Diseases studied and outbreaks

As a diagnostic facility, PIADC scientists study more than 40 foreign animal diseases and several domestic diseases, including hog cholera and African swine fever. PIADC runs about 30,000 diagnostic tests each year. PIADC operates Biosafety Level 3 Agriculture (BSL-3Ag), BSL-3 and BSL-2 laboratory facilities. The facility's research program includes developing diagnostic tools and preventatives (such as vaccines) for foot-and-mouth disease and other diseases of livestock.

Plum Island's freezers also contain samples of polio and diseases that can be transferred from animals to humans. In 1991, the center's freezers were threatened following a power outage caused by a hurricane.

Because Congressional law stipulates that live foot-and-mouth disease virus cannot be studied on the mainland, PIADC is unique in that it is currently the only laboratory in the U.S. equipped with research facilities that permit the study of foot-and-mouth disease.

Foot-and-mouth disease is extremely contagious among cloven-hoofed animals, and people who have come in contact with it can carry it to animals. Accidental outbreaks of the virus have caused catastrophic livestock and economic losses in many countries throughout the world. Plum Island has experienced outbreaks of its own, including one in 1978 in which the disease was released to animals outside the center, and two incidents in 2004 in which foot and mouth disease was released within the center. Foot-and-mouth disease was eradicated from the U.S. in 1929 (with the exception of the stocks within the Plum Island center) but is currently endemic to many parts of the world.

In response to the two 2004 incidents, New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Congressman Tim Bishop wrote a letter to the Department of Homeland Security regarding their concerns about the center's safety: "We urge you to immediately investigate these alarming breaches at the highest levels, and to keep us appraised of all developments."

Replacement facility

On September 11, 2005, the United States Department of Homeland Security announced that the Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center will be replaced by a new federal facility. The location of the facility, to be called the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), is not yet final as of May 17, 2008.Fact|date=August 2008

Activities

PIADC's mission can be grouped into three main categories: diagnosis, research, and education.Fact|date=May 2008

Since 1971, PIADC has been educating veterinarians in foreign animal diseases. The center hosts several Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic schools each year to train federal and state veterinarians and laboratory diagnostic staff, military veterinarians and veterinary school faculty.

At PIADC, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) work together; DHS' Targeted Advanced Development unit partners with USDA, academia and industry scientists to deliver vaccines and antivirals to the USDA for licensure and inclusion in the USDA National Veterinary Vaccine Stockpile.Fact|date=May 2008

USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) performs basic and applied research to better formulate countermeasures against foreign animal diseases, including strategies for prevention, control and recovery. ARS focuses on developing faster-acting vaccines and antivirals to be used during outbreaks to limit or stop transmission. Antivirals prevent infection while vaccine immunity develops. The principal diseases studied are foot-and-mouth disease, classical swine fever, and vesicular stomatitis virus.

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) operates the Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, an internationally recognizedFact|date=May 2008 facility performing diagnostic testing of samples collected from U.S. livestock. APHIS also tests animals and animal products being imported into the U.S. APHIS maintains the North American Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Bank at PIADC and hosts the Foreign Animal Disease Diagnosticians training program, offering several classes per year to train veterinarians to recognize foreign animal diseases.

Pop culture

DNA testing facilityPlum Island is the subject of a novel, "The Poison Plum", by author Les Roberts,cite news
title = The Poison Plum
publisher = Les Roberts
url = http://www.poisonplum.com/
accessdate = 2008-05-17
] and one entitled "Plum Island," by Nelson DeMille. DeMille has said, "How could anthrax not be studied there? Every animal has it." His novel portrays the island as the scene of an incubator for germ warfare.

In the novel "The Silence of the Lambs", Clarice Starling promises Hannibal Lecter an annual trip to Plum Island. He replies, "Anthrax Island?"

In the motion picture "The Silence of the Lambs", he replies "Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center. Sounds charming."

"Lab 257" by Michael C. Carroll, Ph.D., examines the Plum Island Animal Disease Center.

References

External links

* [http://www.dhs.gov/xres/labs/editorial_0901.shtm Official website]
* [http://www.ars.usda.gov/naa/piadc PIADC site]
* [http://digital.library.unt.edu/permalink/meta-dc-1577:1 "The Plum Island Animal Disease Laboratory"] hosted by the [http://digital.library.unt.edu/browse/department/govdocs/ UNT Government Documents Department]
* [http://www.cnn.com/2004/SHOWBIZ/books/04/02/lab.257/ CNN.com "The mysterious lab off New York's shore" Friday, April 2, 2004 by Adam Dunn]
* [http://www.dhs.gov/xres/labs/editorial_0762.shtm NBDF Information]


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