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The Microbiology Division is comprised of seven Branches: Bioterrorism, Special Bacteriology, and Emerging Infectious Diseases, TB, and Mycology.

The Bioterrorism Branch works closely with all state and federal law enforcement agencies, hazmat teams statewide, and the Civil Support Team of the National Guard. The Branch's staff analyzes for and rules out bioterrorism agents such as Bacillus anthracis (B. anthracis), Yersinia pestis (Y. pestis), Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum), Franciscella tularensis (F. tularenisis), Brucella, smallpox, ricin, and influenza - H5N1 that have potential use for terrorism.

The Special Bacteriology Branch serves as a reference laboratory for rare or unusual bacterial pathogens. It also supports epidemiological investigations for disease outbreaks by examining clinical and environmental specimens for the causative bacterial agent. The Branch routinely serotypes Salmonella and Shigella isolates; performs Escherichia coli (E. coli), 0157:H7 and shiga-toxin analyses; and serotypes vaccine preventable disease agents such as, Neisseria meningitidis (N. meningitidis), and Haemophilus influenzae (H. influenzae). The Branch performs examinations on viral respiratory cultures and parasitology specimens.

The Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch utilizes molecular methods for rapid identification of influenza, varicella zoster virus, Norovirus and Bordetella pertussis (B. pertussis). This Branch also provides molecular subtyping for foodborne and nosocomial infections. Rabies, West Nile virus, and botulinum toxin analyses are also performed.

The Microbiology Division also ensures training of the State's Sentinel Laboratories (hospital and reference) for bioterrorism protocols to rule out certain bioterrorism select agents. Training in regulated packaging and shipping of infectious substances is also provided by the division.

The Microbiology Division also includes the TB section or Mycobacteriology (M. tuberculosis complex and other acid-fast organisms). RT-PCR (real time polymerase chain reaction) is now available to determine if M. tuberculosis complex (TB) is present in a fresh specimen. All new cases of tuberculosis are genotyped for epidemiological purposes through CDC's National TB Genotyping Program and drug susceptibility testing is routinely done in house for both first and second line drugs.

The Mycology section of Microbiology mainly tests for Histoplasma, Blastomyces, and Coccidiodes;however dermatophytes, yeasts, subcutaneous and many opportunistic organisms are routinely identified.

Rabies Section

Rabies testing is routinely performed on suspected brain tissue of mammals utilizing fluorescent antibody techniques. This testing is available on weekends in emergency situations with prior approval from the State Veterinarian.

Page last updated: May 13, 2021