Around the world, tuberculosis is responsible for over one million deaths per year. The recent emergence of multi- and extensively drug resistant strains (MDR and XDR, respectively) represents a threat to public health worldwide, particularly when associated with HIV.
Other mycobacteria species, referred to as nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), are ubiquitous environmental bacteria that can also cause human disease. The incidence of NTM disease is increasing and in many parts of the United States it exceeds that of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, creating a public health concern. Consequently, there is an urgent need for new tools for early detection and identification of these strains.
As the reference laboratory for New York State permitted laboratories, our role is to identify all of these organisms and in turn improve patient management and care.
The Mycobacteriology Laboratory at Wadsworth Center performs a full range of conventional and molecular testing procedures for rapid and accurate identification and characterization of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the agent of tuberculosis, as well as for non-tuberculous mycobacterium species, including Mycobacterium abscessus.
The laboratory is also responsible for the tuberculosis section of the laboratory improvement programs mandated by the Laboratory Services Act of New York Public Health Law and CLIA '88. Twice a year, this laboratory's proficiency testing program organizes appropriate testing of approximately 100 laboratories, evaluates their performance and recommends corrective action for raising performance levels to acceptable standards.
The Mycobacteriology Laboratory also provides reference and consultation services to permitted laboratories and agencies from other states. Additionally, this laboratory is responsible for defining the minimal laboratory standards in mycobacteriology.