About the Infectious Disease Laboratory
The Infectious Disease Laboratory, a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act (CLIA) certified facility, occupies approximately 10,200 square feet of laboratory space and is composed of four laboratory units: Microbiology, Molecular Epidemiology, Emergency Preparedness and Response and Virology/Serology.
The Microbiology Laboratory provides a wide range of diagnostic, reference and surveillance testing along with consulting services in the areas of bacteriology, mycology, mycobacteriology, and parasitology and antimicrobial susceptibility testing. Classical microbiologic protocols are supplemented with advanced molecular methods. The microbiology laboratory also serves as the State Reference Laboratory for Laboratory Response Network. Most microbiology laboratory testing is performed in collaboration with corresponding MDH epidemiology programs.
The Molecular Epidemiology Laboratory conducts nucleic acid amplification, Sanger sequencing, next-generation sequencing and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) to find clusters of infectious diseases that may be associated with an outbreak. Amplification capabilities include polymerase chain reaction (PCR), reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR), and “real-time” PCR assays. PFGE analyses include molecular subtyping for surveillance programs and bacterial outbreak investigations. The PFGE lab serves as the North Central Regional PulseNet Laboratory.
The Virology Laboratory performs testing to detect evidence of viral infection. This includes testing for respiratory viruses, vaccine preventable viruses, rash and lesion viruses as well as arboviruses. Testing methodology includes viral culture, direct serologic detection of viruses by enzyme immunoassay (EIA) and immunofluorescence assays (IFA), and molecular detection. This laboratory performs diagnostic testing for Measles, Mumps and also monitors respiratory illness in the State with the ability to detect a change in illness patterns. This lab also performs rabies testing for Minnesota, in partnership with the Vets Diagnostic Lab (VDL) and the Board of Animal Health.
Emergency Preparedness and Response
The Emergency Preparedness and Response Laboratory (EPR) unit serves as a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Laboratory Response Network (LRN) laboratory. Staff from this unit provide statewide diagnostic and reference testing for the agents of highest concern and participate in test development studies in collaboration with the CDC. They also provide training to Sentinel level laboratories, clinical laboratories on the front lines of disease detection, on the early detection and identification of biological agents of concern. Outreach efforts include guidance on new and emerging pathogens, on-site bioterrorism workshops, and training on biosafety and packaging and shipping.