Public Health Laboratory

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Mission statement: "Providing quality laboratory services to protect community health and prevent the spread of disease."

For more information call 619-692-8500. 

For information on state and local disease reporting requirements, click here for Disease Reporting Requirements for Laboratorians.

Facilities where this Service is offered:

 

About the Public Health Laboratory

The Public Health Laboratory (PHL) works in conjunction with public health clinics, local hospitals and healthcare providers, and the departments of Epidemiology and Environmental Health. By analyzing clinical and environmental samples, the PHL participates in the core activities of surveillance, assessment and assurance.

Functions

I. Laboratory support for agency services

  • Clinic support: Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Tuberculosis, Anonymous and Confidential HIV Antibody Testing, Child Health & Youth Clinics
  • Clearance exams on food handlers, health care and day care workers with infectious diseases
  • Testing biting animals for rabies
  • Influenza surveillance (sentinel physicians, lab surveillance, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sentinel laboratory, World Health Organization's Collaborating Center for Influenza)
  • Testing for human mosquito-borne viral infections
  • Regulation of Non-Diagnostic General Health Assessment Programs (e.g. cholesterol and glucose testing in shopping malls)
  • Investigation of suspected communicable disease outbreaks (e.g. salmonella in foods, hepatitis, malaria, and measles)
  • Laboratory testing for the San Diego County Psychiatric Hospital
  • Investigation of suspected bioterrorism incidents
  • Molecular analysis of bacterial and viral pathogens
  • Screening children for lead poisoning
  • Statistical reports for assessing prevalence of diseases

II. Support for Other County Departments

  • Sexually transmitted disease and voluntary HIV testing for Sheriff's detention facilities
  • Court ordered HIV testing on jail inmates or suspects that have exposed others
  • Bacteriological testing of drinking water and coastal recreational waters for the Department of Environmental Health and other government agencies
  • Foodborne illness investigations for the Department of Environmental Health
  • Testing for the County Medical Examiner to assist in determining causes of death
  • Testing environmental samples for bioterrorism agents

III. Services provided to Community Clinics

  • Testing for sexually transmitted diseases
  • HIV antibody testing
  • HIV viral load testing

IV. Services provided to hospitals and laboratories

  • Identification of enteric pathogens
  • Serve as regional reference center for parasite identification
  • Confirmatory testing for syphilis
  • Identification of fungi, yeasts, parasites, and unusual bacteria
  • Identification of tuberculosis bacteria and drug susceptibility testing
  • Virus cultures
  • Molecular typing of bacteria
  • Assist in infection control (immune status testing, typing of drug-resistant bacteria)
  • Training of laboratory and infection control staff
  • Influenza surveillance in hospital emergency rooms
  • Rapid identification or rule out of bioterrorism agents

V. Services provided to private physicians

  • Tuberculosis testing for indigent patients
  • Virology services
  • Consultation
  • Influenza surveillance

VI. Services Provided to Support Academic Institutions

  • Present lectures and laboratory instruction at Palomar College, San Diego State University, and UC San Diego School of Medicine
  • Student career counseling
  • Supervise graduate students
  • Participate in joint research projects

VII. Community Outreach and Support

  • Present lectures and demonstrations for schools and community groups
  • Answer inquiries from the public

VIII. International Activities

  • Laboratory testing for U.S.-Mexico Binational disease surveillance and control projects
  • Training of laboratory workers from Mexican border communities
  • Partnership with Laboratorio Central, Ministry of Health, Honduras
  • Presentation of lectures and workshops to laboratory and other healthcare professionals

 

Laboratory Overview

A description of Services and Staffing.

The Public Health Laboratory is comprised of 5 major sections:

  • Virology and Serology
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Laboratory Support
  • Office/ Administration/ Quality Assurance

Workload: Over 100,000 exams performed annually

Approval and Certification

  • Approved as a Public Health Laboratory by the State of California
  • Certified as an Environmental Laboratory by the State of California
  • Certified as a Clinical Laboratory by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

 

Laboratory Staffing

The Public Health Laboratory is staffed by State certified Public Health Microbiologists. Requirements include a bachelor's degree in Microbiology or a related field. There is a six-month training period, followed by State certification examination. Contact Laboratory Field Services at the website link for specific application requirements. For career information and academic requirements, see 'Career Info' on the California Association of Public Health Laboratory Directors website link.

 

Laboratory Weblinks

Related Links:

 

For more information call 619-692-8500.