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Office of Laboratory Services


The Office of Laboratory Services has two components that support the preparedness and response efforts of West Virginia, the Bioterrorism Response Laboratory and the Chemical Terrorism Response Laboratory. The Threat Preparedness-Bioterrorism Response Laboratory was established as part of a national bioterrorism preparedness and response network of public health and clinical laboratories for the purpose of disease surveillance and emergency response to possible acts of bioterrorism. As the nation's public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a laboratory response plan designed to provide rapid and specific diagnosis of illnesses caused by likely agents of bioterrorism.

This response network is a tiered system, based upon an assessment of laboratory analytical capabilities, capacity to respond, and Biosafety levels. The Laboratory Response Network (LRN) consists of three levels of laboratories, designated Sentinel, Reference, and National Levels. Sentinel Level Laboratories are clinical laboratories that serve hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare institutions. Their primary function is to raise suspicion following the application of commonly performed tests with the objective being to rule out suspect bioterrorism agents.

Reference Level Laboratories have access to protocols and reagents for identifying threat agents in environmental specimens and confirmation of identification for clinical samples. The West Virginia Office of Laboratory Services is the Reference Level Laboratory for Bacillus anthracis, Yersinia pestis, Francisella tularensis, and Brucella spp. The West Virginia Office of Laboratory Services is a member of the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN). FERN integrates the nation's food-testing laboratories at the local, state, and federal levels into a network that is able to respond to emergencies involving biological, chemical, or radiological contamination of food.

The West Virginia Threat Preparedness-Bioterrorism Response Laboratory DOES NOT accept specimens from the general public. If you have a suspicious letter or package, please contact your nearest State/Local Law Enforcement Agency or your Local Health Department.

In 2003, the CDC Laboratory Response Network-Chemical (LRN-C) was created to localize response to chemical threats and emergencies. The LRN-C is a 62 laboratory network formed from state, city, and federal laboratories. The LRN-C is a three level network of laboratories designated as Levels One, Two, and Three with each having different levels of responsibility. All three levels must be certified to correctly package and ship patient specimens to the CDC or the nearest assigned network laboratory within twenty-four hours.

The ten Level One laboratories work with the CDC developing and validating new method procedures to be distributed to the network as new method procedures. They are also the largest laboratories in the network with the capability of testing at least one thousand patient samples in a week in case of an emergency surge.

Level Two laboratories, which include West Virginia, are trained and equipped to analyze patient specimens and identify nine different types of chemical warfare agents. These laboratories are set up to run up to two hundred-fifty patient specimens in a week.

Level Three laboratories are located in critical cities or low population states. They have no laboratory but are certified to package and ship patient specimens.

For more information about the WV Threat Preparedness Laboratories​, contact WV OLS as follows:

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Center for Threat Preparedness | 505 Capitol Street, Suite 200, Charleston, WV 25301 | Ph: 304.558.6900 | Fx: 304.558.0464
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