Laboratory News and Emerging Issues

Laboratory Newsletters

2020-2021 Influenza Surveillance

Surveillance for the 2020-2021 influenza season officially begins on October 1, 2020. 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.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we will have limited availability of influenza testing for diagnostic purposes. We hope most facilities will be able to perform their own influenza testing as they have in the past, including rapid testing once influenza is known to be circulating. MTPHL will remain focused on Covid testing and influenza surveillance, as long as resources are available.

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

 

COVID-19

PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT MTPHL IS STILL CONDUCTING REGULAR TESTING, TO INCLUDE NEWBORN SCREENING (see the document below) DURING THIS COVID-19 RESPONSE. See our laboratory manual for our testing menu.

Newborn Screening during COVID-19

Information regarding the 2019 Novel Coronavirus is evolving. At this point, we are trying to prioritize patients at high risk. Please document on the MTPHL request form the patient status and work with local or state epidemiology staff (406-444-0273) concerning priority patients. Please see the MTPHL guidance document for more information, and if you are not receiving communications about COVID-19 from MTPHL, contact Crystal Fortune, cfortune@mt.gov to be added to our email database. Contact the Montana Public Health Laboratory if you have questions not covered in our guidance document below: (800) 821-7284 or (406) 444-3444.

DPHHS Guidance Document

Additional guidance is available on CDC's website:

Change in Reportable Conditions

December 2019 Reportable Disease List

Add-On Request for Mycobacteriology

We recently updated the “Add-on Test” request form for use when requesting additional testing on Mycobacteria spp. isolates. This updated version provides a little more clarity on the testing choices, including susceptibility testing for Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) isolates. Please view and/or print the updated Add-on Test form and let us know if you have any questions. 800-821-7284

Zika Testing Guidance

Based on the current global epidemiology of dengue and Zika viruses, CDC recommends that state, territorial and local health departments and laboratories review and update their Zika virus testing practices. Routine serological testing for Zika virus is no longer recommended; further details are provided in the CDC's November 14, 2019 letter on Zika testing.

Aptima Multitest Swab Collection

We are encouraging lesion swabs for Herpes testing to be collected using the new Aptima Multitest Swab Specimen Collection Kits. Please distribute the information, found in the August 30, 2019 MT Laboratory Sentinel Newsletter, to your providers as needed. Copy of the product insert from Hologic.

Patient Manifests

On June 1, 2019, the Montana Public Health Laboratory (MTPHL) is implementing a process that will re-quire clinical laboratories to include a daily specimen manifest with all submissions. The use of daily manifests will allow us to better track all specimens from the time they leave your location to receipt at MTPHL. Each manifest will be reconciled with the actual specimens received and if any discrepancy is noted, you will be alerted immediately. All manifest will be kept for a minimum of 30 days.

If you are not currently able to produce your own patient manifest for submission of specimens to MTPHL, please click the following link for a generic manifest template. Frequently asked questions can be found by clicking on the following link: Specimen Transport Bag and Manifest FAQ

Candida auris Information

The Montana Public Health Laboratory, in conjunction with CDC’s Antimicrobial Resistance Laboratory Network (ARLN), is set to detect resistant organisms that pose a public health threat and interested in receiving these isolates for further surveillance testing. This request includes all Candida species other than C. albicans from any source, especially invasive sites.

More information on resistant organisms of interest.

Norovirus Surveillance

Norovirus season is upon us and the 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.

Wanted!! Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (CRPA) isolates

Guidance for Implementation of CRE and CRPA testing at the Montana Public Health Laboratory