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    Laboratory Services Section
    MC 1947
    PO Box 149347 Austin, TX 78714-9347
    1100 W. 49th Street
    Austin, TX 78756-3199

    Phone: (512) 776-7318
    Fax: (512) 776-7294

    Phone Us Toll Free at:
    (888) 963-7111, ext. 7318

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Microbiological Sciences Branch Notices

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UPDATED

Holiday hours: Christmas and New Year’s submission information

The Department of State Health Services Laboratory will be closed Saturday, 12/24/2016, Sunday, 12/25/2016 and Monday, 12/26/2016 for the Christmas holiday. It will be closed Monday, 1/2/2017 for the New Year holiday. For more information and to view the holiday testing schedule, please view the DSHS Lab 2016 Holiday Closures/Testing Reminders Notice. 

Effective December 22, 2016 


Influenza Information for Laboratories

The Department of State Health Services Influenza Laboratory Surveillance Program has updated two documents ahead of the 2016/2017 influenza season.

See the Laboratory Testing Protocol: Influenza Surveillance (pdf, 103kb) document for information on acceptable specimens, specimen labeling and submission for completion, packing and shipment information, a complete list of Laboratory Response Network laboratories, contact information, and more.

The Laboratory Packing and Shipping Diagram (pdf, 131kb) document visually depicts how to pack influenza specimens for shipping. 

Lab testing for clinical disease management purposes in individual patients is not a primary function of public health laboratory testing. Such diagnostic testing, if desired, should be performed by commercial laboratories.

Updated October 10, 2016 


Virology Testing Changes

Effective September 1, 2016, Viral Isolation and Viral Reference Culture will no longer be available at the DSHS Laboratory in Austin. This change is reflected in the most recent version of the G-2V form (July 2016). Questions should be directed to the Viral Isolation team at 512-776-7594 or 512-776-7515.
   Posted 8/19/16


Revised Notice: Change in HIV testing

Effective October 1, 2016, the DSHS Laboratory in Austin will begin using the new HIV diagnostic testing algorithm. HIV screening will be performed by the HIV Ag-Ab Multiplex flow immunoassay using BioPlex 2200 for HIV detection. Results of this test will distinguish between the presence of HIV antibodies or antigen in one specimen. Additional supplemental tests will be automatically performed to confirm the presence of antibodies to HIV-1 or HIV-2 and HIV-1 p24 antigen by Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) performed by the Dallas Co. Dept. Of Health and Human Services at: 2377 N. Stemmons Freeway, Dallas TX 75207, CLIA # 45D0672012. A single HIV report will be released with the result interpretation guidelines. The serum specimen acceptance criteria for the testing will not change.

HIV Ag-Ab assay is an important development for HIV testing that improves the ability to detect HIV infections earlier. The new diagnostic testing algorithm will perform better than the current algorithm for identifying HIV infections by reducing turnaround time and reporting results for all of the individual HIV analytes (HIV-1 Ab, HIV-2 Ab, and HIV-1 p24 Ag). With FDA's approval of the GeeniusTM HIV 1 / 2 Supplemental assay for use as the second test in this algorithm, DSHS laboratory will adopt this algorithm.

HIV-1 EIA for Oral Fluid (Avioq) and Western Blot (WB) for serum and Dried Blood (Bio-Rad) and Oral Fluid (OraSure) samples have been discontinued effective 9/1/2016.  Multispot will be discontinued and replaced with GeeniusTM for confirmation for HIV-1 / HIV-2 antibodies on October 1, 2016.  NAAT will be performed only as a follow up test for the HIV screening using the new HIV diagnostic testing algorithm and will not be offered as a standalone test at the DSHS Laboratory.

Questions should be directed to the Serology Team at 512-776-7657.  
   Posted 9/14/16



Zika Testing Notification

Notice to all submitters requesting Zika virus testing. Please use the most recent version of the G-2V form (July 2016) for requesting all Zika virus testing and check the box for “Zika, Dengue, and/or Chikungunya”. If you submit the G-2A form or the old G-2V form marked with Zika serology only or Zika PCR only respectively, the test performed by the laboratory will be determined using the most current CDC guidelines for testing and epidemiological information.

For Payor Source (Section 6 of the G-2V):

  • Do NOT check a DSHS program as a Payor Source if the patient has Medicaid, Medicare, or private insurance; the submitter should provide all insurance information.
  • FOR ZIKA-RELATED TESTING REQUESTS ONLY: please mark “Zoonosis” as the Payor Source IF THE PATIENT DOES NOT HAVE Medicaid, Medicare, or private insurance.

For the most recent information regarding specimen types, specimen collection, and specimen shipping and instructions on how to complete the payor information on the G-2V form, please see specimen collection protocol located at http://www.texaszika.org/docs/DSHS-Chik-Den-Zika-Serology-and-PCR-specimens.pdf.

To request a submitter ID number please complete the Submitter Identification (ID) Number Request Form and follow the instructions for submitting the form.
   Posted 8/8/16


Health and Human Services Commission Strategic Plan 2017-2021 Public Hearing

DSHS stakeholders can give their input on the 2017-2021 Health and Human Services Strategic Plan at a public hearing on June 17, 2016, at the Brown-Heatly Building, 4900 N. Lamar in Austin and via telephone. The hearing begins at 1 p.m.

HHSC, DFPS, and DSHS will each develop strategic plans, and HHSC will develop a Coordinated Strategic Plan covering all health and human services agencies. Questions about this hearing can be emailed to strategicplancomments@hhsc.state.tx.us or you can call 512-206-5802.

Written comments also will be taken until 5 p.m. June 17 and can be emailed to strategicplancomments@hhsc.state.tx.us.

For more information about the hearing, please visit the DSHS website.
   Posted 6/9/2016


Submit Zika Specimens Directly to DSHS Laboratory – not CDC

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Fort Collins has requested that specimens for the detection of Zika virus by real time RT-PCR (rRT-PCR) be submitted to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Laboratory in Austin, TX.

Effective immediately, do not ship specimens for rRT-PCR directly to CDC. All specimens for Zika virus should first be submitted to the DSHS Laboratory or an approved Local Health Department Laboratory performing rRT-PCR in Texas. Specimens sent directly to CDC will be forwarded to the DSHS Laboratory resulting in further delay of testing.

For information regarding submission to the DSHS Laboratory, please see specimen collection protocol located at http://www.texaszika.org/docs/DSHS-Chik-Den-Zika-Serology-and-PCR-specimens.pdf. Note: Serum is required for this testing. Please contact your Local Health Department or DSHS Health Services Region prior to shipping to ensure patient meets criteria for testing.

For additional information related to the Zika virus, go to www.texaszika.org.
   Posted 3/31/16


Important information regarding chikungunya, dengue, and Zika specimen submission

The guidance document for submission of chikungunya and dengue specimens to the DSHS Laboratory was recently updated to incorporate information on Zika specimen submission. This includes testing criteria for both Serology and PCR. Please refer to the new guidance document— Chikungunya, Dengue, and Zika PCR and Serology Specimen Criteria—for details.
   Posted 3/3/2016


Important information regarding chikungunya and dengue specimen submission

Chikungunya and dengue PCR is now available at the DSHS laboratory. Please see the Chikungunya and Dengue PCR and Serology Specimen Criteria for important specimen submission information. Note: Dengue serology testing is available at DSHS; however, chikungunya serology testing can only be performed at the CDC. Specimens with completed travel history and date of onset for chikungunya serology will be forwarded to CDC.
   Posted 1/8/16


Last updated September 7, 2017