Our ADHS Public Health Laboratory has been authorized by the CDC to begin testing blood samples for the Ebola Virus as needed. We received an Ebola test kit on Tuesday, completed our proficiency testing Wednesday, and were approved yesterday (Thursday). The kit can test up to 9 clinical samples for the Ebola Virus. We used a few of the tests for our quality control proficiency tests this week, but we still have the capacity to test 4 samples with the remaining materials from the initial kit.
There have been 3 initial reports of suspect Ebola Virus Disease in Arizona, none of which met the risk assessment criteria for testing. With the receipt of this week’s kit – and our successful proficiency testing – we’ll no longer need to send samples to the CDC for initial testing. Our test uses a technology called polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which amplifies viral RNA by several orders of magnitude, allowing our scientists to make a definitive determination in a matter of hours.
The Lab and our I.T. folks also built an Ebola Virus Disease website that provides guidance and logistics for clearing and submitting samples for analysis. Our Lab website includes the risk assessment criteria for testing, describes how to contact our ADHS Epidemiology program for specimen testing clearance, specimen collection criteria, laboratory personal protective equipment recommendations, packaging, shipping and transportation requirements, the clinical specimen submission form, and additional resources for laboratory personnel.
The CDC’s Ebola Website contains a wealth of useful clinical and public health information for medical and public health professionals as well as the general public and media.