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TB Notes 4, 2006
Director's Letter
Highlights from State and Local Programs
  Los Angeles Presents "The Opera and Perspectives on TB"
  Arizona's and Sonora's Meet and Greet Program for Deportees with TB
  The Flex Power of Memoranda of Agreements (MOAs)
  HIV Status Not Routinely Determined for TB Cases: an Evaluation of Four California Local TB Programs
CDC/ATSDR Group Award for Minority Health Mentor/Champion of Excellence
Laboratory Update
  New Technologies Unveiled at the 2006 National TB Controllers' Workshop
Nursing Updates
  The Red Snappers of National Tuberculosis Nurses Coalition (NTNC)
  Pacific Island TB Controllers Association (PITCA) -  Workshop for Nurses
TB Education and Training Network Updates
  Member Highlight
  Sixth Annual Conference Highlights
  Cultural Competency Subcommittee Update
Communication, Education, and Behavioral Studies Branch Update
  New Communication Efforts to Stop TB in the African-American Community
Clinical and Health Systems Research Branch Update
  Using a Private Claims Database for TB Health Services Research, Evaluation, and Analysis
Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Outbreak Investigations Branch Updates
  9th Semiannual Meeting of the Tuberculosis Epidemiologic Studies Consortium
  TBESC Task Order #10: Monitoring Performance and Measuring Cost of TB Public Health Practice at County and State Health Departments: Are We Making a Health Impact?
New CDC Publications
Personnel Notes
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TB Notes Newsletter

No. 4, 2006

Laboratory Update

New Technologies Unveiled at the 2006 National TB Controllers’ Workshop

At the June 2006 meeting of the National Tuberculosis Controllers’ Association in Atlanta, GA, representatives of two state public health laboratories presented exciting new methods for detecting drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) in hours or days rather than the month that had until recently been required.

At a plenary session and in a poster presentation, Dr. Max Salfinger, then with the New York State Department of Health, presented Wadsworth Center’s evaluation of the Genotype MTBDR Assay from Hain Lifesciences in Nehren, Germany. In a breakout session, Dr. Edward Desmond of the California Department of Health Services described the performance parameters and public health impact of a molecular beacons assay that had been developed in the California laboratory. Both methods are used directly with acid-fast smear-positive clinical specimens, and can give a result within 1 or 2 days after the specimen arrives in the laboratory.

In an era when strains of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex with extensive drug resistance are emerging (see MMWR 2006; 55:301-305), detection of multidrug-resistant (MDR) strains within 48 hours can have an important public health impact by enabling patients to be put on an effective regimen much sooner. The Genotype MTBDR assay will be submitted for approval by the US Food and Drug Administration in the near future. The molecular beacons assay is not yet a commercial product, but has been extensively studied and used by the California laboratory for 3 years. Dr. Desmond reported that it has a high level of agreement (96%–97%) with conventional drug-susceptibility testing. He also indicated that it has proven useful in many circumstances, including cases in which drug resistance is suspected, cases in which conventional drug-susceptibility testing is slow or impossible, and high-impact cases in which patients are critically ill or large numbers of patients could be affected by quick detection of drug resistance.

More details regarding these assays were provided in the following presentations and publications:

  1. Somoskovi A, Dormandy J, Rivenburg J, and Salfinger M. Rapid direct detection and susceptibility testing of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex for isoniazid and rifampin in smear positive clinical specimens by the PCR-based Genotype MTBDR Assay. Poster at the 2006 National TB Controllers Workshop [Readers who would like to receive a copy of the poster may write to
  2. Lin S-Y, Wenger J, Mase S, Agraz R, Raftery A, and Desmond E. 2005. Utilization of molecular beacons for rapid detection of MDR TB in a public health setting. Abstracts of the 2005 Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. [Readers who would like a copy of the poster may contact Ed Desmond at]
  3. Lin,S-Y, Probert W, Lo M, and Desmond E. Rapid detection of isoniazid and rifampin resistance mutations in Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex from cultures or smear-positive sputa by molecular beacons.
    Journal of Clinical Microbiology 2004; 42(9): 4204-4208.

—Reported by Anthony Tran, MPH, MT (ASCP)
Association of Public Health Laboratories
On behalf of the APHL TB Steering Committee


Released October 2008
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
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