Lab Matters Spring 2019 | Page 32

PUBLIC HEALTH PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE The Future of Biosafety and Biosecurity in the Public Health Laboratory by Michael Marsico, senior specialist, Biosafety and Biosecurity In 2015, 64 state, local and territorial public health laboratories (PHLs) were part of the three-year, $24 million US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Domestic Ebola Supplemental for Enhanced Laboratory Biosafety and Biosecurity Capacity cooperative agreement (ELC Ebola Biosafety Agreement). The agreement was designed to enhance PHL biosafety capacity and improve coordination and outreach with clinical laboratories. With assistance from APHL over the span of the agreement, PHLs were able to not only enhance their internal biosafety programs, but also provide biosafety guidance to clinical laboratories. For jurisdictions that requested an extension of the three-year funding, CDC approved this requested and laboratories continued their efforts through March 2019. With the CDC ELC Cooperative Agreement ending this year, laboratories are vulnerable to losing their biosafety officers and the biosafety capacity achieved since 2015. These laboratories rely heavily on federal funding to sustain their biosafety activities, especially training and outreach activities to clinical labs. Four laboratories look towards the future. between the state PHL and sentinel clinical laboratories. Our budget was adjusted to accommodate a BSO position going forward. I’m recognized for an impact on safety awareness in this lab and across Utah’s hospital laboratories and that is expressed in a promising future for the position.” Former Deputy Laboratory Director Michael Stevenson, PhD Idaho Bureau of Laboratories (IBL) What gap(s) do you believe still need to be addressed in regards to biosafety and biosecurity? Bryan Burk Biosafety Officer William Bryan Burk Utah Public Health Laboratory What is one key accomplishment in biosafety and biosecurity you are proud to share? “I’ve produced a weekly newsletter that has vitalized communication between our facility and the sentinel clinical labs we serve. By being in a position to propagate a message of biosafety to my clinical laboratory partners, I promote the significance of risk awareness and the importance of implementing mitigation to the betterment of public health overall. I would like to note the training and onboarding provided to me by UPHL, APHL, CDC, the Laboratory Response Network and Sean Kaufman’s program have given me an understanding and insight that 35+ years of laboratory bench experience never even touched. With the biosafety program, a light has been cast upon an aspect of the profession long kept in the dark. I now have a clearer, focused perspective about the risk, consequence and mitigation of biological hazards.” “There is still a gap in having Division 6.2 Infectious Substances properly packaged and shipped according to Department of Transportation regulations. We continue to see specimens sent to our state PHL that are not properly packaged—this is more noticeable in samples sent by veterinarians of animal heads or bats for rabies testing. We recognize that outreach is needed for vets to learn how to properly package and ship Division 6.2 Infectious Substances.” What is the future plan for biosafety for your public health laboratory? “We have been fortunate to have Hospital Preparedness Program funding for these workshops over the past several years. With the loss of the ELC Ebola Biosafety What is the future plan for biosafety for your public health laboratory? “I am fortunate to have leadership that values my input and outreach, and my efforts have helped to bridge the gap Michael Stevenson 30 LAB MATTERS Spring 2019 PublicHealthLabs @APHL