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Public Health Lab references out TB testing during lab transition

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Tuberculosis test to be temporarily referenced to labs in MO, TX

STILLWATER — To prevent an interruption of services and to protect Oklahomans’ health, Oklahoma’s Public Health Lab (PHL) will reference out tuberculosis testing to both the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory and the Texas State Public Health Laboratory beginning today, May 18.

The change is being made because BSL-3 testing capabilities at the old Public Health Lab in Oklahoma City shut down May 14 as part of the transition to the lab’s new location in Stillwater. BSL-3 testing will not be operational at the new Public Health Lab in Stillwater until the fall.

There will be no interruption in services with this transition, either for patients or hospitals, nor will there be an impact to the Public Health Lab’s budget as a result of the change.

In order to maintain testing over the summer, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) will reference tuberculosis testing to the Missouri and Texas public health labs, who are well positioned and can handle the volume of testing needed. Missouri will take the first 120 samples each month, and the remainder will go to Texas.

The old Public Health Lab runs approximately 520 tuberculosis tests each month. Right now, 90% of Oklahoma’s tuberculosis tests are a preliminary analysis. If tuberculosis is suspected, the lab runs another test that requires a sample to grow for six weeks.

As part of this transition, the Public Health Lab will no longer take preliminary samples and is asking hospitals to not send unreferenced tests. There are multiple other labs in Oklahoma that can run unreferenced tests, including DLO and others. OSDH will continue to run tuberculosis samples that have had a pre-screen already at the Missouri and Texas labs until the new BSL-3 lab in Stillwater is fully operational later this year.

To date, these are the services that have been referenced out as OSDH works to make the new Public Health Lab fully operational:

  • Tuberculosis testing
    • Referenced out on May 18 to the Missouri and Texas public health labs
    • Anticipated to return to the Public Health Lab in fall 2021
  • Newborn testing
    • Referenced out in March to PerkinElmer in Pennsylvania
    • Anticipated to return to the Public Health Lab on June 1, 2021
  • Mycology and microbiology
    • Referenced out in February to Minnesota
    • Anticipated to return to the Public Health Lab on July 1, 2021

These services continue to run at either the old or new PHL:

  • COVID-19, STI and rabies testing are operational at the old Public Health Lab in Oklahoma City. COVID and STI testing will move to the Stillwater lab June 1, 2021. Rabies will move to the Stillwater lab August 1, 2021.
  • Sequencing continues at the new Public Health Lab in Stillwater and will continue to ramp up in the coming weeks

“This decision was made in order to continue providing Oklahomans with top quality testing and healthcare services as we continue to establish capabilities at the new Public Health Lab,” said Travis Kirkpatrick, Deputy Commissioner with OSDH. “Our top priority has been and will continue to be to do this right and ensure that the new PHL has the technology, staff and capabilities needed to provide top-of-the-line health services to our state.”


Last Modified on Jun 03, 2022