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DFS’s Public Health Lab Approved for Ebola Testing

Friday, October 10, 2014

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The Department of Forensic Science’s Public Health Laboratory is now certified to test for the Ebola virus.

The laboratory discussed Ebola testing protocols with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday and received the last of the proficiency testing materials on Wednesday morning. By Wednesday afternoon, the lab had completed the test and returned it to the CDC for evaluation. The PHL was notified late Thursday that it has been approved.

“This is another in a series of significant achievements for the DFS Public Health Laboratory,” said DFS Director Max Houck. “Being able to test for Ebola, along with other emerging diseases like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, the DFS continues to make the District and its residents safer and more secure,” Dr. Houck said.

Ebola is a hemorrhagic fever that is fatal in up to 90 percent of human cases. The current outbreak in Africa has killed more than 3,800 people, and the first Ebola patient to be diagnosed in the United States died Wednesday at a Texas hospital.

Earlier this year, the Public Health Laboratory became be a top-tier member of the CDC’s Laboratory Response Network, joining 10 existing facilities nationwide as the front-line defense against bioterrorism, chemical terrorism and other public health emergencies.

Last November, the CDC authorized the laboratory to open the national capital region’s first Biosafety Level 3 lab, enabling analysis of materials that pose a severe threat to public health and safety, such as anthrax and bubonic plague.