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Nation's Laboratory Response Network Marks First Decade of Protecting Public Health
Date:3/30/2009

SILVER SPRING, Md., March 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Laboratory Response Network (LRN), the national laboratory system charged with protecting the public in health emergencies, will mark its first decade at its national meeting in Orlando, Florida, April 1-3, 2009.

Founded in 1999 by the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to test for agents of bioterrorism, the Laboratory Response Network has evolved to become the nation's laboratory resource for response to emerging infectious diseases, toxic spills, natural disasters, chemical terrorism and other public health threats.

LRN member laboratories conduct confirmatory testing of specimens referred by clinical laboratories, law enforcement agencies, the armed forces and other partner agencies. The results of their analysis determine emergency response measures.

The first trial of the LRN came in 2001. "Two weeks after the state of Florida finished training its laboratorians in emergency response measures, a Florida LRN reference lab identified Bacillus anthracis, the index case for the anthrax events of 2001, in a clinical specimen," remembers APHL Executive Director Scott Becker. "That day the concept of a national, rapid response laboratory network proved its worth."

In subsequent years, the LRN's portfolio expanded in response to outbreaks of SARS, monkey pox and avian influenza. Its productivity level was high. In one twelve-month period during 2006, over 5,000 tests for unknown substances were performed by state public health laboratories. A diverse membership of state and local public health labs, veterinary, agricultural, military labs, water and food testing laboratories tackled the workload using standardized methods and tests to assure accuracy and consistency across the network.

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SOURCE Association of Public Health Laboratories
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