MT Public Health Laboratory Guidance Documents

Antimicrobial Resistance

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to effective treatment of infection. The Montana Public Health Laboratory provides the following information to assist providers, pharmacies, and laboratories in their efforts to manage antibiotic use. 

List of isolates required for submission to MTPHL for surveillance purposes

Please refer to the MT Communicable Disease Epidemiology Antimicrobial Stewardship web page.

Guidance Document for Implementation of Antimicrobial Resistance Testing at MTPHL

CDC’s Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Cooperative agreement (ELC) has requested Public Health Laboratories to collect, confirm, and characterize antimicrobial resistant organisms, including carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (CRPA), and Candida spp. (especially C. auris). Isolates will be collected from jurisdictional healthcare facilities using a strategy that allows for estimating the burden of antimicrobial resistance within the population served by the Public Health Laboratory. The Public Health Laboratory and state Epidemiologists will collaborate with the state HAI/AR prevention programs and with the Antimicrobial Resistance Laboratory Network regional laboratories (ARLN). This Guidance document will identify expectations for testing, submitting, and reporting. Download the complete guidance document.

COVID Surveillance

The CDC tracks emerging COVID variants through genomic surveillance. Genomic surveillance identifies circulating variants to rapidly inform public health response efforts. Testing, treatment, and vaccination programs can be improved based on regularly updated surveillance of variants, including updating future vaccines if needed. Detection of variants that are more transmissible or cause more severe disease support outbreak preparedness, prevention efforts, and strengthens public health response.

The Montana Public Health Lab is one of the many labs that contribute data to this surveillance program. Sequencing conducted by our lab can help provide a better understanding of local epidemiology and transmission, and these data can help investigate clusters of disease in various settings. Our goal is to receive samples representing all areas of Montana, but we need your help! We are requesting COVID-positive samples be sent to the PHL for “SARS-CoV-2 Variant Surveillance.” 

2023-2024 Influenza Surveillance

Appropriate treatment of patients with respiratory illness depends on accurate and timely diagnosis. Early diagnosis of influenza can reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics and provide the option of using antiviral therapy.

Surveillance for the 2023-2024 influenza season officially began on October 1, 2023. Receiving the first positive influenza specimens in the state is important in determining the circulating strains and prevalence. The Montana Public Health Laboratory (MTPHL) also shares these specimens with the Centers for Disease Control for further characterization and antiviral resistance testing.

As in the past, the Montana Public Health Laboratory is requesting your participation in our surveillance efforts. We are offering you up to 5 fee-waived influenza tests to be used for the first few positive rapid tests this season or for individuals who are hospitalized with suspected influenza. Please select “Inf PCR Survon the online order screen.


For information about influenza activity in the United States during the influenza season, visit the Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report (FluView)

 Norovirus Surveillance

Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) needs your help this season to improve our outbreak surveillance regarding Norovirus in Montana. Gastroenteritis outbreaks or any outbreaks that occur in congregate settings such as schools, nursing homes and child cares are reportable and provide a glimpse inside infectious diseases in Montana. DPHHS is asking our partners to do their part to improve our understanding of norovirus in Montana. 

Letter to laboratories regarding submission of specimens for Norovirus surveillance and outbreak investigation.