Pennsylvania Veterinary Laboratory


The Pennsylvania Veterinary Laboratory (PVL) is one of three laboratories within the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System (PADLS) that offers quality assured regulatory and diagnostic testing for veterinarians, farmers, animal owners, agribusinesses and regulatory agencies.

PVL is accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, and is also a partner of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, and the Food Emergency Response Network.

We offer a variety of diagnostic services for a variety of animals including molecular diagnostics, serology, bacteriology, virology, parasitology, animal autopsy (necropsy), biopsy and toxicology. Some important diseases we test for include rabies, brucellosis, leukosis, bluetongue, swine influenza, equine herpes, classical swine fever, avian influenza, chronic wasting disease, Johne’s disease, bovine viral diarrhea, West Nile virus, equine infectious anemia, scrapie, foot and mouth disease, Salmonella and Mycoplasma.

Tickborne disease testing

PVL recently introduced a duplex real-time PCR assay for the detection of Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Borrelia burgdorferi DNA in ticks. Test cost is $35/specimen for both agents.

  • Borrelia burgdorferi, a tick transmitted spirochete, is the etiological agent of Lyme disease. The disease is transmitted by Ixodes spp. ticks (blacklegged or deer ticks). Specimens acceptable for PCR testing include the tick, a skin biopsy, synovial or cerebral spinal fluid, fresh tissue, formalin-fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissue blocks or shavings.
  • Anaplasma phagocytophilum is a rickettsial disease, also transmitted primarily by Ixodes ticks (blacklegged or deer ticks). A. phagocytophilum is the causative agent of granulocytic anaplasmosis (formerly granulocytic ehrlichiosis) in humans, dogs and horses. Common clinical signs of infection in horses include fever, decreased appetite, lethargy, petechiae, icterus, reluctance to move, ataxia, distal limb edema along with laboratory findings of thrombocytopenia and leukopenia. Most frequently reported clinical signs in dogs include lethargy, fever, lack of appetite and musculoskeletal signs. Laboratory abnormalities in dog include thrombocytopenia, anemia, lymphopenia, leukopenia and mildly elevated levels of hepatic enzymes. Specimens for PCR testing include the tick, EDTA blood (purple top) and tissue. Ticks for testing must be submitted in concurrence with a veterinarian’s referral in a tightly sealed plastic bag or container to the lab.

Brucella melitensis

Brucella melitensis primarily infects sheep and goats in which it is a significant cause of abortion. Brucellosis is also a serious zoonotic disease, causing undulant fever in humans. B. melitensis has not been found recently in the U.S. However, this test is frequently requested by countries importing sheep or goats from the U.S. PVL now offers the B. melitensis card test for $2 per animal.

Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) and Mycoplasma synoviae (MS)

All three PADLS labs are now offering duplex real-time PCR for the detection of M. gallisepticum and M. synoviae in poultry. MG infections are particularly significant in commercial flocks, backyard flocks and even pet birds. This new assay is more sensitive and rapid than previous assays. Specimens that can be tested include swabs, aspirates, tissues, culture broth and plates. The fee is $40 per specimen.

Equine herpes virus (EHV)

EHV is a significant cause of abortion and neurological disease in equids. Besides providing rapid detection of EHV -1 by PCR, we can also distinguish between the wild- type EHV-1 and the neuropathogenic variant. For abortion cases, please submit a whole fetus with the placenta, if possible, to ensure a complete diagnostic work-up.

For antemortem testing, submit both whole blood and nasal swabs.

  • Whole blood: collect a minimum of 15 cc of blood in two 10 cc EDTA (purple top) tubes.
  • Nasal swabs: use a 5-6 inch long, plastic shaft, polyester tipped swab to gently rub the mucosa of the nasal cavity. Break the swab off into a sterile red top tube. No additives are suggested, although swabs in appropriate viral transport medium will be accepted.

MALDI-TOF (Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-Time of Flight)

PVL has started using the new MALDI-TOF for bacterial pathogen identification. Over 10,000 bacterial isolates have already been screened in last 3 years. The proteomics-based-approach has changed clinical microbiology. The main benefit to clients is rapid and accurate results. Using this methodology, when fresh and pure cultures are tested, identifications can be achieved in minutes.

No. You do not need an account prior to submitting specimens to the laboratory. If you are to be selected as the “Bill To” party, on the PADLS submission form, an account will be created and you will be sent a bill.

Once billed, you may pay with a check or you may call the laboratory and pay with a credit card.

All specimens submitted to the laboratory must be accompanied by a submission form. For submissions with a large number of specimens, we encourage the use of the Electronic Specimen Sub-mission Form (eAAI-11). When using the Electronic Submission Form, submit a hard copy of the first page of the form with the speci-mens.
  • Ensure that your submission form is filled out completely and legibly.
  • Clearly indicate the specimen collection date on the submission form.
  • Collect specimens in recommended blood tubes, screw cap containers or other leak-proof containers. Call the lab if unsure.
  • Clearly indicate each animal’s identification. Record the same animal names/numbers on the specimens as they are written on the submission form, and organize the specimens in this same order in the shipping container.

Specimens must be packaged and shipped to the laboratory following applicable federal regulations. Specimens may also be delivered to the laboratory during normal business hours. Instructions are available for after-hours deliveries.

Laboratory hours are from 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday. Laboratory personnel are available for assistance with submissions during this time. Use the dock phone to dial 200 for the operator.
After-hours submissions are also possible:

  • Small samples can be placed directly into the small dock cooler.
  • For large animals and specimens that require placement in the large dock cooler, use the dock phone to call the Capitol police at 99-787-3199 who will arrive to unlock the large cooler door.
  • Blood, swabs and other small tissue specimens (e.g. AI swabs or serum) can be placed in the refrigerator that is located in the receiving area vestibule.

All animals and samples regardless of time of submission must have appropriate completed paperwork and be properly labeled. Paperwork and instructions concerning proper submission of animals and samples, including phone numbers, is provided at the dock area.

Autopsies are performed as soon as possible after receipt of animal carcasses at the lab. A preliminary report will be distributed to parties listed on the submission form. Results of additional testing (bacterial culture, histopathology, PCR, etc.) will be distributed as interim reports. A final report will be distributed when all testing and interpretation is completed and the case is finalized. Information regarding turn-around times is available by clicking Find Tests under the Tests and Submissions menu above.

Results for diagnostic specimens submitted through mail/courier service or dropped off at the lab are reported similarly after testing is completed. For rabies reporting see details under Rabies section.

The preferred method for report distribution is via email. If an email address is provided, it will be the default method of all report distribution. Emails are distributed with “USALIMS” as the sender and “PADLS client report for accession number” as the subject. Inclusion of an email address also makes online access to results possible via PADLS Online. To find results or register for an account, click Tests and Submissions on the menu and select Find Results. Additional methods of distribution include fax and US Mail.

A detailed testing invoice will be sent to the party that was indicated as the “bill to” party on the submission form. This party will receive a bill.

The phone number for PVL is 717-787-8808. Someone is available to answer phone calls from 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday. At other times, please feel free to leave a message.