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Bioterrorism

The Bureau of Laboratories (BOL) serves as Pennsylvania's reference laboratory in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Laboratory Response Network (LRN). Laboratories throughout the commonwealth act as LRN sentinel labs and are trained to alert the BOL when their routine testing reveals a specimen that may contain certain organisms and toxins capable of being used as biological weapons. Suspicious isolates or specimens from persons suspected to be infected are shipped to the BOL where specialized testing is performed to rule out or confirm the presence of potential agents of bioterrorism. The BOL works closely with the CDC, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies to investigate such occurrences.

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM), in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Association of Public Health Laboratories, has developed a website with information LRN sentinel laboratories. It provides information on potential agents of bioterrorism, the symptoms they cause, specimen collection and submission, and laboratory testing.

Please contact the BOL if you suspect your laboratory has encountered a potential agent of bioterrorism or if you have questions or concerns regarding information found on the ASM website.

Guidelines on the diagnosis and evaluation of Smallpox is available from the CDC.