Mycobacterium tuberculosis 

Tuberculosis (TB), commonly considered a disease of the past, is resurging in new and virtually untreatable forms that cause significant social, public health and economic costs.

APHL, working closely with the CDC's Division of Tuberculosis Elimination (DTBE), continues to work to understand and meet the needs of public health laboratories as new technology emerges and funding becomes tighter.

Public health laboratories perform diagnostic testing procedures that play an essential role in the treatment, prevention and control of TB. They are responsible for quickly identifying the causative agent Mycobacterium tuberculosis, conducting drug susceptibility testing to check for resistant strains and performing universal genotyping that is useful for identifying outbreaks. 

Education and Training  

A set of free and interactive training modules, the “Essentials for the Mycobacteriology Laboratory: Promoting Quality Practices” are an on-demand resource to promote competency, quality and safety in common mycobacteriology testing practices. Designed for laboratorians at all levels of experience, each module in the series is complimented by references and resources. Modules are also available in PDF format (with and without narrative notes) for use in laboratory training programs.

Every other year APHL hosts the National Conference on Laboratory Aspects of Tuberculosis. The  11th National Conference will be in April 2019  in conjunction with the National TB Controllers Association (NTCA) National Conference. APHL Conference Proceedings from the 5th to the 10th National Conferences are available (see side bar).

Drug Susceptibility Testing

In 2015, APHL in collaboration with CDC established a National PHL Drug Susceptibility (DST) Reference Center for Mycobacterium tuberculosis to provide quality-assured drug susceptibility testing for eligible US public health laboratories. The reference center serves as an extension of CDC’s Division of TB Elimination Laboratory Branch providing services that are harmonized with and complementary to those available at CDC.

The TB subcommittee has developed and published white papers on Issues in Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex (MTBC) Drug Susceptibility Testing covering current guidelines, recommendations and research findings.

Self-Assessment Tool

In 1995 APHL and CDC developed and published Mycobacterium Tuberculosis: Assessing your Laboratory, a tool designed to assist laboratories in the assessment of the quality of their laboratory’s TB diagnostic practices. The tool was updated in 2013 to reflect profound changes to TB diagnostics and was also converted to an electronic TB self-assessment tool. Laboratories are encouraged to incorporate the use of this tool into their current Quality Assurance practices as a means to determine the existence of areas within individual laboratories that may be in need of improvement.