Hawaiʻi Health Dept Establishes Ebola Testing Capabilities
By Maui Now Staff
The Hawaiʻi Department of Health, State Laboratories Division announced that it has established testing capabilities for the 2014 outbreak associated with the Ebola Zaire Virus.
“With the nation on heightened alert for possible Ebola cases, having laboratory capabilities in Hawaiʻi allows us to have earlier results and timely support for our local disease investigations,” said Health Director Dr. Linda Rosen in a press release statement.
Rosen said that although testing capabilities are now available here, test results for Ebola will still require final confirmation by the CDC in accordance with national guidance.
“Our state is so fortunate to have a public health laboratory with a talented and flexible workforce that can respond quickly to community needs,” she said.
Health officials say the real time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction test is similar to the methodology that the State Laboratories Division uses for other RNA viruses such as influenza, West Nile virus, and dengue.
“Laboratory staff have been fully trained on how to safely work with high risk specimens, including those that may contain Ebola or biological terrorism agents,” said State Laboratories Director Dr. Christian Whelen in a department press release.
In October, the state Department of Health determined that the individual that was in isolation at a Honolulu hospital who was reported to the department as a possible Ebola case, did not meet the criteria for testing.