Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine is one of seven laboratories nationwide recently chosen to conduct tests for mad cow disease for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA has allocated $70 million for the nationwide program, which is expected to last 12-18 months.

WSU plans to test about 5,200 cattle from Washington over the next year and likely will hire two additional employees, said Charlie Powell, communication coordinator for the college. The lab may also get approval to test cattle samples from other states, he said.

The first U.S. case of mad cow disease was discovered in Mabton, Wash., in December. Since then, more than 25 countries have banned U.S. beef. This new USDA initiative hopes to convince those countries to reopen their markets.

Other approved state laboratories are located in California, Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin, Georgia and New York, and include facilities at Cornell, Texas A&M and the University of California-Davis.