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The general public should first contact their local law enforcement for an initial investigation. No powder samples can be submitted to the N.C. State Laboratory of Public Health (NCSLPH) unless through a law enforcement agency or through the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (PHP&R). If a credible threat is present, the investigating law enforcement agency should contact the NCSLPH to coordinate the details of submission. Refer to the document Response Guidelines for Suspicious Substance Threats for detailed procedures for response to an event. Powder samples are generally transported to the NCSLPH by the submitting law enforcement agency.
Clinical samples will be accepted from a hospital or any other clinical lab in the state. Samples may be submitted if normal bacteriological methods are unable to rule out an agent of concern. The NCSLPH requests that all bioterrorism rule out samples be sent following current shipping guidelines, and include a completed Clinical Form. The submitting lab must specify if they want an unknown organism identified, otherwise the NCSLPH will only rule out specified agents of concern.
Are bioterrorism samples returned?
Samples can be returned to the submitting agency. Generally the submitting agency will call after receiving negative results to schedule an appointment to pick up the tested sample.
Who would the general public contact regarding suspicious powders, letters, or packages?
The general public should contact their local law enforcement agency who will then contact the NC State Laboratory of Public Health (NCSLPH) if a threat is present.
Will a weekend delay the results of a bioterrorism sample?
A weekend will generally not delay the results of a sample. The actual turnaround time will vary depending upon the threat and testing load.
How are results obtained?
Results will be phoned to the submitting agency or hospital/clinic the day they are obtained, and mailed in the next outgoing mail.