IMMUNOLOGY & VIRAL ISOLATION
The Immunology and Viral Isolation section performs laboratory testing on human and animal specimens in order to identify the presence of either viral and/or bacterial agents or the presence of antibodies that typically are produced in response to an infection or exposure to a virus or bacteria.
The Virology section at DCLS is one of the fastest growing laboratories and most recently has been challenged with providing rapid testing for the detection of many critical threats to public health including the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS – CoV); Measles and Mumps; Chickenpox; Hand, Food and Mouth Disease; and Influenza and other common respiratory viruses.
Examples of other pathogens detected by this laboratory area include:
- West Nile Virus
- HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
- Rabies virus
- Influenza virus
- Treponema pallidum (causative agent of syphilis)
The Immunology and Viral Isolation section at DCLS also provides laboratory data that is useful for many other purposes including:
- Identifying and characterizing unknown isolates obtained from human samples/tissues
- Supporting outbreak investigations by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH)
- Supporting VDH surveillance or monitoring activities for established and emerging viral infections
- Collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the upcoming year's flu vaccine development
Arboviruses, which are viruses that are transmitted to humans and animals by the bit of a mosquito, tick, or other arthropod, are increasingly being recognized as pathogens of public health importance due to the emergence of several diseases. The Immunology and Viral Isolation section has implemented testing that looks for antibodies specific for Zika virus in response to the growing global outbreak.
- Other testing performed by this group includes testing human samples for antibodies to:
- Chikungunya virus
- West Nile virus (WNV)
- St. Louis Encephalitis virus (SLE)
- Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEE)
- LaCrosse Encephalitis virus
- To help determine where and when WNV and EEE are circulating in Virginia and to aid mosquito control programs in eastern Virginia, DCLS participates in the Arboviral Sentinel Chicken Surveillance Program and tests chicken sera for antibodies against West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis viruses.
The Immunology and Viral Isolation Group also supports the Virginia Department of Health's (VDH) Rabies Control Program. Rapid (same-day) identification of rabies virus can be performed to determine whether an animal under investigation may have the disease. This information aids public health officials at VDH in determining whether post-exposure prophylaxis treatment of potentially exposed humans is necessary. This section also can use specialized testing to identify the specific strain type of the rabies virus, which is useful public health information for intervention and surveillance purposes in Virginia.