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Laboratory Network for Biological Terrorism

National LaboratoriesPyramid representing lab roles in the LRN. BOTTOM: Sentinel labs for recognizing, ruling out, and referring. MIDDLE: Reference labs for confirmatory testing. TOP: National labs for definitive characterization.

National laboratories, including those operated by CDC, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), and the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC), are responsible for specialized strain characterizations, bioforensics, select agent activity, and handling highly infectious biological agents.

Reference Laboratories

Reference laboratories are responsible for investigation and/or referral of specimens. They are made up of more than 150 state and local public health, military, international, veterinary, agriculture, food, and water testing laboratories. In addition to laboratories located in the United States, facilities located in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico and South Korea serve as reference laboratories abroad.

Sentinel Laboratories

The LRN is currently working with the American Society for Microbiology and state public health laboratory directors to ensure that private and commercial laboratories are part of the LRN. There is an estimated 25,000 private and commercial laboratories in the United States. The majority of these laboratories are hospital-based, clinical institutions, and commercial diagnostic laboratories.

Sentinel laboratories play a key role in the early detection of biological agents. Sentinel laboratories provide routine diagnostic services, rule-out, and referral steps in the identification process. While these laboratories may not be equipped to perform the same tests as LRN reference laboratories, they can test samples.

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