LSU Veterinary School steps up to create COVID-19 tests

LSU Veterinary School helps to create COVID-19 test kits

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Veterinarians and researchers at the LSU Veterinary School have played a key role in helping doctors by creating test kits and speeding up testing in the Baton Rouge area.

One of the big reasons tests are so hard to come by is a chemical used to stabilize the virus after a swab is taken.

It just so happens the LSU Vet School can make that chemical.

“When I asked her if she could make some for us, she said, ‘Of course. How much.’ I said. ‘a lot.’ and she said. ‘Okay,’’ Dr. Bud O’Neal, Medical Director of Research at OLOL, said.

Clinicians from Baton Rouge General stepped up to assemble the tests for hospitals in the area, but there was a logjam of tests from all over Louisiana at the state lab. Results could take as many as six days. That wasn’t good enough for hospitals packed with possible COVID-19 patients.

LSU and several hospitals worked together to make it all happen. The LSU Biological Sciences Department had its graduate and doctoral students capable of performing the tests. The Vet School, with the help of Baton Rouge General, had the equipment to make the tests. Our Lady of the Lake had the research staff and data analysis experts to track it all.

Soon, the Vet School’s rapid test lab was up and running. Currently, it can produce almost 200 tests per day.

“We test predominantly patients who are in the hospital and nursing home patients, and healthcare workers to try to unload the health care system,” O’Neal said. “If we can find out who is negative -- who doesn’t have the disease -- those are the patients we can act on to get out of these wards and relieve that pressure and stress on the system.”

The Vet School’s rapid test lab is made up of an all-volunteer team.

“Tiger Stadium is overwhelming and you see it and you see a world-class athletic program, but what we also have is a world-class biological science and world-class scientists using that talent to solve a practical problem was all we wanted to do,” O’Neal said.

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