Steve Troxler Agricultural Sciences Center is already being put to the test. High path avian influenza, animal necropsies, dog treat recall – busy times at the lab. The lab has hosted a number of registered pesticide technician schools where training and testing is provided to structural pest control operators and technicians.

by | Jul 26, 2022

The official opening of the Steve Troxler Agricultural Sciences Center happened in late March, but there has been no shortage of work for the newly opened lab center. If you pay attention to local news stories, you may have even heard about investigations and tests that the lab has been involved in. Assistant Commissioner Sandy Stewart provides an update on some of the work going on at the ASC.

Assistant Commissioner Sandy Stewart chats with Southern Farm Network’s Mike Davis
about ongoing work at the Steve Troxler Agricultural Sciences Center 

Summary of Talking Points:

  • The Agricultural Sciences Center has been a busy place since it opened.
  • If you pay attention to local news, you may have seen or heard about stories that staff and labs at the Ag Sciences Center has been involved with.
  • Your listeners may recall the Outer Banks colt that died back in April under unusual circumstances.
  • The three-week-old colt named Charlie was with his parents when he laid down near them and passed away. He showed no signs of illness, struggle or distress.
  • Because it was sudden and unexpected, his remains were sent to our Veterinary lab where a necropsy was conducted to determine a cause of death.
  • The necropsy revealed he died from bacterial septicemia (Sept ti see me uh) – a condition where bacteria enters the body through the umbilicus or navel.
  • It was a sad case but knowing a cause of death in this situation provided a measure of relief and assurance that something contagious was NOT potentially circulating in the herd.
  • Animal health is a big part of what the department’s Veterinary Division is focused on. With over 60 percent of the state’s farm income coming from livestock production, it is a busy division and lab.
  • Listeners may also remember the high pathogenic avian influenza that was found in our state in a commercial flock of turkeys in late March. This prompted increased testing of poultry operations within a 6.2 radius around the initial site.
  • This is a highly contagious virus that spreads quickly in poultry and turkey operations, so finding an outbreak and reacting to it quickly is the best measure of defense against it continuing to spread.
  • The veterinary lab was a critical element in the state’s quick response.
  • The scope of services provided by this lab complex is very broad.
  • We have talked about the vet lab and animal health, but consumer protection is also a primary focus as well.
  • Just last week, a Goldsboro company issued a recall of some of its dog treats after our tests revealed the presence of salmonella.
  • This was an interesting case, because in this situation, the concern in finding salmonella was for both the pets and the owners, who could become sick from salmonella.
  • The pets from ingesting it, and for the owners if they did not wash their hands thoroughly after having contact with the treats or surfaces that the treats touched.
  • People love their pets, but food safety definitely affects us all.
  • On a daily basis, the Food and Drug Protection Division labs are routinely testing food products for a variety of pathogens that can cause food-borne illnesses.
  • As a father of three children, I’m glad to know we are checking food products for safety.
  • Another part of the Ag Science Center that’s stayed busy is our training rooms.
  • When this building was designed, we also wanted to have classroom space to be able to host pesticide technician training classes, which staff with our Structural Pest Control and Pesticides Division teach.
  • Since January we have held 10 Structural Pest Control exams and 14 Pesticides exams, 7 registered technician schools, a field team training and about a dozen exam reviews. Previously, these exams had to be held at other places in the area, like the fairgrounds.
  • This training should help ensure structural pest control operators and pesticide technicians provide the proper treatment when they come to your homes or offices.