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How Diagnostics Help Solve Herd Health Challenges

Newport Laboratories, Inc. uses proprietary database and latest technologies to deliver customized health solutions

Conventional diagnostic tests can help to narrow down the potential causes of complex animal diseases. But new technologies are allowing diagnostic laboratories to get a broader view of what’s happening within an animal, resulting in deeper insight, more accurate results, and thus highly targeted herd health solutions.

One such tool being used by Newport Laboratories, Inc. is metagenomics, which provides a complete snapshot of pathogens present in an animal by using fecal or tissue samples.

“Metagenomic sequencing lets us look at everything that’s in a sample, which is really more of a casting-a-wide-net approach, compared to traditional genetic sequencing, which is like a more targeted spearfishing method,” explains Wayne Chittick, head of diagnostics for Newport Laboratories.


One of the largest private diagnostic laboratories in the United States, Newport Laboratories routinely works with more than 40 state and university labs around the country. “State Veterinary diagnostic labs are very effective at what they do, and have helped to make the U.S. a global leader in animal disease diagnostics,” notes Chittick.

“Much of the work we do at Newport Laboratories fits nicely with what’s done at those labs,” he continues. “For example, if a veterinarian is dealing with a respiratory case, he or she might send tissue samples to a state laboratory, where they would determine the specific bugs that are contributing to the problem.

“From that point, Newport Laboratories is ideally positioned to continue diagnostic testing, using the latest novel molecular technologies to further characterize isolated pathogens, compare them genetically to genes associated with important virulence factors, and recognize emerging variants,” he says.

In the business for more than 20 years, Newport Laboratories maintains its own proprietary database of field- sampled isolates. “We can cross-reference field samples against our database and determine if a strain has appeared in that herd before, or if it is new,” says Chittick. “A new strain could be used in the development of a custom-made vaccine.”

Custom-made vaccines can help fill the gaps in disease prevention, complementing the protection herds already get from commercial vaccines, he adds. “Newport Laboratories has been at the forefront in developing diagnostics and conducting research to create custom vaccines, and we gained access to even more resources last year when it became part of Boehringer Ingelheim.”

Veterinarians Are Key

Performing quality lab work is only part of solving livestock disease issues. “Local veterinarians are really key to the whole process,” says Chittick. Veterinarians see what’s happening on farms, record the clinical signs and oversee sample collection. It all starts with them.

“There’s a misconception out there that you can send samples to a lab and get some magical fix for disease issues, but it’s really a multistage process,” asserts Chittick.  “We do the science, then work collaboratively with the veterinarian and other labs to interpret the results and develop the best customized solutions for each herd.”

To learn more about how Newport Laboratories diagnostics and custom-made vaccines can help solve your animal health challenges, visit


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