The Epidemiologic Support Group combines classical microbiology with advanced molecular testing to address foodborne and waterborne disease in an exciting and effective way. This group provides laboratory testing that tracks harmful pathogens that affect humans and our environmental every day so that we can monitor for increases that may suggest that additional sources of disease are present in our community, which may indicate the start of an outbreak. This group also maintains a full-service scientific support section capable of preparing high quality media and reagents, and able to provide essential laboratory support services such as reagent and glassware sterilization and the ability to safely dispose of contaminated waste from all the laboratories within DCLS. This section is the key to ensuring that all DCLS laboratories maintain the highest standards of quality and that all of the media and reagents used for testing of customer samples whether purchased commercially or prepared in-house are of the utmost quality.
The Epidemiological Support Group includes the following testing areas:
Molecular Subtyping Laboratory (PulseNet Virginia)
- This laboratory uses advanced testing to study bacterial pathogens at the genetic level in order to identify clusters of pathogens with similar genetic profiles or fingerprints. This testing can be used to test bacterial pathogens found in humans, food and the environment.
- Technologies used include:
- Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE); also known as DNA fingerprinting
- Multi-locus variable number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA)
- Next Generation Sequencing
- The Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services has been designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the PulseNet Regional Laboratory for the Mid-Atlantic region, providing surge capacity testing and technical support for the states within this region.
Food Microbiology Laboratory
- The Food Microbiology laboratory uses classical microbiology and advanced laboratoary testing methods to identify harmful pathogens, toxins, and adulterants in the food supply and in animal feed samples commercially sold in Virginia.
- Laboratory testing is routinely performed in support of:
- Food and feed surveillance activities by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS)
- Food recalls occurring locally or nationally
- Foodborne outbreak investigations by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) or other state and federal public health partners
Water Microbiology Laboratory
- The Water Microbiology laboratory uses classical microbiological techniques to identify the presence of bacteria (termed coliforms, E. coli and Enterococci ) in drinking water and non-potable water in support of federal and state regulatory compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act.
- The testing done in the Water Microbiology laboratory ensures Virginians have safe water to drink and clean water for recreational activities such as swimming, fishing, and boating.