The head of the Iowa Hygienic Lab in Iowa City is on the way to Washington to tell a congressional committee tomorrow that it’s time to spend money keeping laboratories running at full capacity. Dr Mary Gilchrist is also President of the Association of Public Health Laboratories.
She’ll suggest the laboratory response network get full funding to it can evaluate all the specimens coming in from suspected bio-terrorism cases. Labs often report a backlog during flu outbreaks or crime investigations, so how are they handling the flood of anthrax scares?
She says Iowa’s law-enforcement officials use a checklist to screen specimens and only bring “credible threats” to the lab, whereas some other states are having trouble trying to do that. Funding for state labs would benefit residents and healthcare workers in more peaceful times, too, says Dr Gilchrist.
Lab techs could be trained to recognize bio-terror agents but also deal with antibiotic resistance, flu, and all the rest. Gilchrist expects a warm reception for her call to fund state labs.