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NC Department of Health and Human Services
State Laboratory of Public Health
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Bioterrorism and Emerging Pathogens Unit: Overview

  • The mission of the Bioterrorism and Emerging Pathogens (BTEP) Unit is to maintain laboratory capacity for the detection of biological weapons and emerging infectious diseases and to act in a manner that strengthens crisis response within the Division of Public Health.
  • In addition to normal first shift operations, the Unit is available 24/hours, 7 days/week, 365 days/year for emergency response to situations warranting testing, consultation and/or to provide necessary sample transport by on-call couriers.
  • As an advanced laboratory within the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) international Laboratory Response Network (LRN), the Unit ensures timely local response in the event of a threat incident with the capability to produce conclusive results, thus allowing local authorities to respond quickly to emergencies.

The Importance of the Bioterrorism and Emerging Pathogens Unit

  • Routine and emergency testing is provided to detect causative agents of diseases such as anthrax, plague and ricin toxicity and emerging infectious diseases like MERS-CoV and Ebola, as well as for suspicious substances in clinical samples, food and environmental samples using CDC-established protocols and procedures.
  • Services are provided for hospital laboratories, reference laboratories, law enforcement and other public health partners with a turn-around time of as little as four hours for clinical samples and environmental samples in only eight hours.
  • Training, outreach and consultative services related to organism referral, sample packaging and shipping and communications to clinical laboratories, health departments, reference laboratories, HazMat and law enforcement are provided.
  • The BTEP Unit has the capability to perform surge capacity testing for other LRN reference laboratories.

Bioterrorism and Emerging Pathogens Unit Coverage

  • The BTEP Unit was formed as an independent laboratory administrative unit in 2004. Full-time staff includes a core unit of four employees located at the N.C. State Laboratory of Public Health (NCSLPH) in Raleigh and two home-based employees located in the eastern and western regions of the state. Additionally, there are three employees located in Molecular Epidemiology, one in Virology/Serology and two positions in Microbiology, dedicated to BTEP testing needs.
  • The BTEP Unit provides 24/7 coverage by maintaining an on-call duty phone (919-807-8600) and pager (919-310-4243).
  • In addition to meeting testing needs, the BTEP Unit provides training, outreach and consultative services to all counties across the state of North Carolina. This service is provided for hospitals, local health departments, Regional Response Teams (HazMat) and other first responders as needed.
  • Outreach and consultation services are provided to sentinel laboratories by BTEP Consultants in the eastern and western regions. Additionally, these consultants contribute to the BTEP Unit’s surge capacity.

SLPH Bioterrorism Information