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TB Notes Newsletter

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No. 2, 2010

Updates from the Mycobacteriology Laboratory Branch

World TB Day Laboratory Tour

various CDC staff touring TB Lab.To celebrate World TB Day and to showcase the contribution of the laboratory in TB control and elimination efforts, DTBE’s Mycobacteriology Lab Branch hosted a tour of the CDC TB lab at the Roybal Campus on March 24. Tour capacity was reached, and 22 people participated in a tour to see the lab’s set up and layout, and to observe how the lab works.

Visitors were able to walk into the carpeted office areas, and then peer through windows into the various biosafety level (BSL)-2 and BSL-3 labs where they observed CDC scientists, both applied research and reference laboratorians, at work. The attendees were split into two groups, and Ray Butler and Mitch Yakrus served as their tour guides, explaining procedures and fielding the many questions that arose during the tour. The audience consisted of staff from a wide variety of CDC offices and centers.

TB Lab Tour held on World TB Day, 2010Participants showed an interest in a number of topics, ranging from the historical work done at the CDC TB laboratory to safety protocols to current reference testing and research. Most tour members did not come from a laboratory background and many had never toured a laboratory before. All were impressed with the level of safety protocols that are in place in the TB lab, from the respiratory protection plan the employees must undergo, to the negative airflow that is constantly monitored, and even the level of safety that is imposed on the transport and receipt of specimens. They were also equally impressed with the level of expertise and the critically important work that CDC TB laboratorians perform. Visitors came away with a better understanding of the laboratory and its integral function in working towards the goal of elimination of tuberculosis.

—Submitted by Frances Tyrrell, MPH, MT
Div of TB Elimination

MLB Sponsors Webinars for Public Health TB Labs

The Laboratory Capacity Activity (LCA) of the Mycobacteriology Laboratory Branch (MLB) at CDC has developed a webinar series for state and local public health TB laboratories throughout the United States. The purpose of the webinar series is to provide a forum through which MLB can update public health TB labs on new services provided by the Branch, such as the new service for molecular detection of drug resistance; to showcase new information, guidelines, and recommendations that relate to TB lab testing; and to provide a forum for discussion, questions and answers, and the sharing of best practices among public health TB labs in the United States.

The second webinar in the series was recently held, and over 70 laboratorians and other public health TB personnel participated. The webinar followed a “Town Hall” format, and featured four guest speakers. Laboratorians Julie Tans-Kersten from the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene, Gary Budnick from the Connecticut Public Health Lab, Yvette Vergnetti from the Alaska State Public Health Lab, and Lisa Dettinger from the Pennsylvania BOH Laboratory joined the LCA as expert panelists.  Entitled “Examples from the Field: Challenges and Successes for Quality TB Specimens,” the webinar focused on the efforts that have proven successful in improving the quality of specimens for TB testing, reducing turnaround times for specimen receipt, and cost-effective measures for obtaining specimens in large states and jurisdictions. The guest panelists provided insights into how their respective laboratories, in collaboration with TB control programs, have resolved problems regarding these issues. The Town Hall format allowed for an informal atmosphere that encouraged questions and suggestions.

The webinar and its format were well received by the participating audience.  The Lab Capacity Activity of the MLB plans on incorporating the Town Hall format into more webinars in the future.

—Reported by Frances Tyrrell, MPH, MT
Div of TB Elimination


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