Health

Laboratory Response Network Certification

Proposal

Rapid laboratory detection along the Texas/Mexico Border is paramount for early detection and intervention, disease control, especially for new and emerging (Zika) diseases and to prevent spread. This is part of the health and bio-security response. Currently our laboratory capacity is not certified by the Texas Department of State Health Services to serve as a Laboratory Response Network (LRN) lab to detect bioterrorism agents, emerging and novel public health threats and emergencies and other public health threats. Laredo has a biosafety laboratory level III (BSL III) that was built in partnership with DSHS with the intent of becoming an LRN to enhance laboratory capacity on the Texas/Mexico Border. This would enhance our response to current and new biological threats. This certification will also facilitate Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) approval to reduce the risk of foodborne threats.

Background

The Texas/Mexico Border is a target and must assure both homeland and health security for safety and protection against all public health urgent threats and bioterrorism. We are an international border and Laredo is the number one (1) inland port of entry with 40% of all US inland goods passing through Laredo's four international bridges, and we are the third largest customs district in the nation. With new trade agreements with Mexico, Central and South America, China, Europe, air travel and air cargo; trade and migration, we are a high threat level for public health risk. Trade, migration and population enhance the health security need to all hazardous threats by current, emerging and new diseases and bioterrorism on the Texas/Mexico border. Some of these potential threats are: Migration (Unaccompanied Children, Central American migrants released into our communities), new diseases such as Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERs), H1N1, Ebola and Zika as well with continued threats (Dengue Virus, Botulism, Ricin, Anthrax) and current Multi Drug Resistant and infectious diseases (Tuberculosis, foodborne illness, chemical exposure).

Because Laredo has one of the highest threat levels in comparison to current LRNs that have a much lesser threat threshold; we ask that our LRN designation be re-evaluated and granted. Our 4,000 square foot facility provides clinical, environmental and bio-safety lab III testing and detection. As an LRN, we can conduct additional biological testing for critical health bio-threats and other public health emergencies (Zika). The City of Laredo invested $2,050,000.00 for renovation and $120,000.00 for equipment, DSHS contributed $750,000.00 for renovation and $300,000.00 for equipment. It's time to support the full laboratory capacity.

Contact

Dr. Hector F. Gonzalez
Health Department Director
2600 Cedar Avenue
Laredo, TX 78040
Phone: (956) 795-4901
Fax: (956) 726-2632
Email: hgonzalez@ci.laredo.tx.us