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August 16, 2018

Sentinel Laboratories

Through the CDC Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreement, IBL's Laboratory Response Network for Biological Threats (LRN-B) lab trains a network of Idaho sentinel labs to recognize potential biological threat (BT) agents and to properly ship specimens.  Sentinel laboratories are typically clinical laboratories that analyze or refer specimens that may contain microbial agents or toxins.  

As an LRN reference laboratory, IBL's LRN-B lab receives biological specimens from sentinel laboratories and environmental samples from agencies such as HazMat to confirm biological threats. The lab utilizes rapid molecular and conventional microbiological methods for confirmation of BT agents. 

IBL maintains strict guidelines regarding receipt and processing of samples. Before submitting a sample, it is highly recommended that you consult the Bureau's Sampling and Submission Guide. There you will find a complete list of tests that are performed at IBL as well as information on sample collection, storage, handling procedures, and rejection criteria. Samples must be received in appropriate packaging.  

Samples must be accompanied by the proper submission form for the test requested. These forms may be printed and used for submission. Environmental samples must be submitted to IBL by a law enforcement agency.  The submission form for rule in/rule out of biological threat agents in clinical samples can be found below. When sending clinical samples, please notify a staff member in the Microbiology section.

Select agents are biological agents and toxins that have the potential to pose a severe threat to public health. The possession, use, and transfer or select agents is regulated by the National Select Agent Registry.

  • APHL Biosafety and Biosecurity Website:  This website offers tools and resources to strengthen biosafety and biosecurity practices in public health and clinical laboratories.
  • APHL Laboratory Training
  • CDC Laboratory Training
  • CDC BT Rule Out or Refer: Virtual Knowledge Exercise:  This virtual exercise provides an opportunity for the microbiologist to participate in a series of three virtual case studies using the sentinel laboratory protocols in a safe environment to detect potential bio threat agents.
  • Clinical Laboratory Preparedness and Response Guide:  This guide was developed to assist laboratories by providing guidance on the responsibilities and practices that are recommended when dealing with biothreat agents. In it you will find the tools and standards necessary to recognize if your laboratory has received a patient specimen containing a biothreat agent and how to handle it. This guide also covers basic laboratory biosafety, packaging and shipping, regulations that impact LRN Sentinel Laboratories and much more.

Contact Information

Microbiology Section Manager: 
     Robert Voermans
     (208) 334-0555
     (208) 334-4083 (fax)

Emergency Activation Through StateComm, 1-800-632-8000