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Public Health Laboratories To Assume Primary Responsibility for Confirmatory Testing of Swine Flu
Date:4/30/2009

control the spread of disease.

Yet even though influenza surveillance and diagnostics are routine functions at public health laboratories, this year's outbreak poses particular challenges. "Lab folks are resilient, but even they have limits in how long they can manage to do more with less," said APHL Executive Director Scott Becker. "The economic downturn has really taken a toll on state and local health departments. I am seriously concerned about staff burnout if this outbreak continues more than a couple of months."

Results of a first quarter 2009 APHL survey indicate that the public health laboratory workforce, which numbers only 6500 nationwide, has been reduced by at least 500. These reductions apply to administrative and IT support as well as to laboratory staff. Survey results also show deep cuts to laboratory budgets -- sometimes requiring the elimination of entire public health programs, mandatory furloughs and reductions in funding for essential equipment and supplies. More cuts and staff reductions are anticipated in coming months based on initial responses to APHL's second quarter survey on the impact of the economic downturn.

The Association of Public Health Laboratories is a national non-profit located in Silver Spring, MD, that is dedicated to working with members to strengthen governmental laboratories with a public health mandate. By promoting effective programs and public policy, APHL strives to provide public health laboratories with the resources and infrastructure needed to protect the health of U.S. residents and to prevent and control disease globally.


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SOURCE Association of Public Health Laboratories
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