A new IU Health lab dedicated to testing monkeypox samples opened this week. The lab in Indianapolis will be the primary testing site for suspected monkeypox samples in Indiana.
Jessica Isaac is IU Health’s executive director for academic health center laboratories. She said the department responsible for the lab – the molecular pathology department – tries to respond to the needs of the moment.
“We were the first hospital-based laboratory to bring COVID testing live,” Isaac said. “So as soon as we found out about monkeypox being a real threat to Indiana, we knew that we were going to develop a monkeypox test.”
The lab has cut the turnaround on monkeypox tests from eight to 14 days to 24 to 48 hours.
“Having that test back more quickly enables quicker clinical decision-making, and a peace of mind – I think – for patients that are being tested that are worried,” she said.
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Isaac said the turnaround also means people tested for monkeypox can be released from quarantine faster when they are negative for the virus. People who test positive for monkeypox are required to isolate for the duration of the illness – up to four weeks.
The lab’s current capacity for tests is 500 per day, but can grow to match demand. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Indiana has identified 162 cases of monkeypox.
The virus is spread through skin-to-skin contact, touching monkeypox sores, or through respiratory droplets during prolonged exposure.