The Delaware Public Health Laboratory Biological and Chemical Preparedness section has the following capabilities:
- The Delaware Public Health Laboratory (DPHL) is a level B reference laboratory in CDC's Laboratory Response Network (LRN) which can perform confirmatory testing on clinical or environmental samples for biological agents related to bioterrorism. DPHL is also a member of FDA's Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) and can test food samples for foodborne outbreaks or biological agents related to bioterrorism. Our staff routinely participates in quarterly conference calls and proficiency tests with these organizations. The biological preparedness section is responsible for training and ensuring that clinical microbiology (sentinel) laboratories throughout the state are proficient in the testing performed to rule out bacterial agents that may be used in a biological terrorist act.
- The DPHL works closely with the Division of Public Health Emergency and Preparedness Section and other partners in planning and exercising drills related to emergency response for public health events or disasters that may impact Delawareans. DPHL coordinates testing, training and exercising of plans with hospital partners and laboratories for emergency preparedness activities. DPHL is a level 3 lab for Chemical Terrorism which provides training and guidance to sentinel laboratories (clinical, agricultural, environmental, academic and industry) for packaging and shipping of biological or chemical terrorism testing on clinical specimens.
- Through the recent Ebola outbreak and other laboratory exposures in the U.S., greater attention has been given to biosafety and biosecurity from a preventative perspective. Delaware was able to create a new Biosafety/Biosecurity Official position who works closely with all laboratories, including hospitals and other healthcare facilities in Delaware to enhance the levels of biosafety and biosecurity preparedness and laboratory practices.
Environmental and Food Testing
- The Delaware Public Health Laboratory has the capacity to test for biological agents that may be found in environmental or food sources. DPHL is a reference laboratory in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Laboratory Response Network and a member of Food and Drug Administration’s Food Emergency Response Network. Staff participates in bimonthly conference calls and quarterly proficiency tests with these organizations. Requests for testing are evaluated by the Bureau of Epidemiology of the Division of Public Health or first responders from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
Clinical Laboratory Referral
- The Delaware Public Health Laboratory is responsible for ensuring that clinical microbiology laboratories throughout the state are proficient in testing to rule out bacterial agents that may be used in a biological terrorist act. Classes are provided periodically to clinical microbiology laboratory staff on these procedures. Isolates that cannot be ruled out must be sent to DPHL immediately for rule out testing. Molecular and cultural methods can be performed to rule out most biological agents. Clinical laboratories and hospitals are encouraged to communicate with laboratory and epidemiology staff regarding any unusual isolates or infections that they may encounter.
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