Disease detection: Laboratories on the front lines

From the CDC’s blog, Public Health Matters:

lab tech working with samples under a hood

You can’t respond to threats if you don’t know what they are, which is one reason that laboratories play such an important role in public health. Public health laboratories have helped detect all kinds of threats to the public’s health; including anthrax, monkey pox, novel flu viruses, and foodborne disease outbreaks caused by germs like listeria. Since 1999, CDC, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) have been working together to support the Laboratory Response Network (LRN). The LRN is a network of 160 domestic and international laboratories that work around the clock to provide rapid testing of biological and chemical threat agents and support for other public health emergencies.  They use standardized tests so results from one laboratory mean the same thing as results from another laboratory within the network.

The LRN’s mission to respond to public health emergencies was tested in the summer of 2011, when a 61-year-old retiree from Florida was diagnosed with anthrax. The man was on a 3-week vacation with his wife visiting the national parks of Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas when he came down with a rare and extremely deadly type of anthrax infection that experts believe he picked up from natural sources while on his road trip.

Read the complete post here.

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