REGIONAL VETERINARY LABORATORIES.
1. Proposals put forward in the Second Programme for Economic Expansion for the extension of the veterinary services provided by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries included a project for the establishment of regional veterinary laboratories to supplement the service which was already available from the Veterinary Research Laboratory at Abbotstown. The aim was to provide an improved diagnostic, investigational and advisory service for the country as a whole. The question of the location of the new laboratories was considered on the basis that they should be sited in areas with a high density of livestock and in centres with good communications to facilitate the rapid transmission of perishable specimens submitted for diagnosis. The five centres eventually chosen, Sligo, Cork, Limerick, Athlone and Kilkenny, with the existing Abbotstown Laboratory, ensure that no area in the country is more than 50 or 60 miles from a laboratory.
The laboratories at Sligo, Cork, Limerick and Athlone have been in operation for some time. The Kilkenny laboratory was opened in February, 1973.
2. The laboratories provide a diagnostic, investigational and advisory service. Quite obviously, however, they cannot be utilised to provide for a farmer the type of service which he should normally get from his veterinary practitioner. In the normal course the function of the laboratory is to examine and report on specimens submitted by a veterinary surgeon, to advise the veterinary surgeon generally on problems he may encounter with individual animals or with particular flocks or herds or on disease problems which may have general application in the area. Where necessary or desirable members of the professional staff at the laboratories will, in consultation with the veterinary practitioner, visit farms to carry out investigations or advise on disease control or prevention.
3. The laboratories are open from Monday to Friday and, in addition, a Research Officer and Attendant are on duty at each laboratory on Saturdays until at least 12.30 p.m. Normally an owner should not send or bring specimens to the laboratory except on the advice of his veterinary practitioner. Apart from considerations of professional ethics, the veterinary surgeon’s first hand knowledge of the factors which may contribute to the setting up of disease in a particular case such as housing, pasture, husbandry practices etc. are essential to the forming of a correct diagnosis in most cases.
Specimens for laboratory examination should be accompanied by the history of the case, the name of the owner and of the veterinary surgeon and any other relevant details. Neither the Department nor the veterinary officer in charge of a laboratory can accept any responsibility where a carcase or other specimen is left outside the laboratory gate.
4. When each regional laboratory was opened the Director of the Department’s Abbotstown Laboratory wrote to all veterinary practitioners in the area to be served by the laboratory informing them of the service and inviting them to an “open” day at the laboratory at which all matters pertaining to the service were fully explained.
While for obvious reasons, casual visits to the regional laboratories are not encouraged the Department is anxious to facilitate visits by organised groups of farmers. Arrangements for such visits to any of the laboratories can be made with the veterinary officer in charge.
M. J. BARRY
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
22 Feabhra, 1973.