AAHP Field Disease Investigation Unit (FDIU)

About the AAHP Field Disease Investigation Unit (FDIU)

The FDIU, created in 1983, is a component of the WSU CVM Agricultural Animal Health Program (AAHP). Since then, faculty members have traveled to locations of herd problems to perform field investigations on problems of regional importance to agricultural animal producers in the Pacific Northwest.

The FDIU has responded to needs from all over the Pacific Northwest and has conducted research investigations into diseases threatening the economy of herds in the Pacific Northwest as well as nationally. Jointly supported by the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences, the unit works closely with the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Washington State University. Advice and consultation on regional and national animal diseases and public health issues are provided to producers, practicing veterinarians, animal industry groups, and state and federal regulatory personnel.

Most AAHP FDIU research projects are funded through grants awarded by government agencies and private institutions.


Veterinary students accompany FDIU teams during elective blocks in the 4th year of study, traveling to field sites for investigations. Students are trained in the general aspects of herd investigations and population medicine, providing them with a basic understanding of the epidemiological approach to solving herd disease problems. FDIU faculty oversee a number of senior student research projects and presentations that culminate in the required 4th year senior paper and presentation.

Graduate education is an integral part of many FDIU faculty's academic responsibilities. Currently, graduate students specialize in epidemiology and population medicine. In addition, FDIU faculty frequently present continuing education seminars to practicing veterinarians, present their research at scientific meetings, and attend producer group meetings within the region.


The AAHP FDIU conducts research using hypothesis-based field trials to address problems of regional importance to agricultural animal producers in Washington.

Ongoing research includes:

  • Investigations pertaining to the epidemiology and ecology of Salmonella enterica on farms with the goal of developing preventative strategies and mitigating zoonotic risks.
  • Molecular biology studies of zoonotic organisms including Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, and E. coli O157. Recent human health problems with E. coli O157 and other zoonotic agents of livestock origin illustrate the need for more complete descriptive epidemiology, determination of herd risk factors, and improved understanding of farm ecology in association with the human food chain and the occurrence of disease.
  • Molecular epidemiology of antibiotic resistance.
  • Research in bovine mastitis to identify transmission risk factors, epidemiology, immunology, diagnostic strategies, and management of dairy cow teat chapping and milking hygiene.
  • Identification of plant toxicities, description of previously uncharacterized problems, and the development of preventative strategies including the relationship between pasture and plant conditions and at-risk animals.
  • Identification of risk factors for lupine-induced arthrogryposis (crooked calf disease) in range cattle.
  • Identification of determinants of neonatal calf mortality as it relates to failure of passive transfer and on-farm management.