Public Health Lab of East Texas Overview

What is the purpose of PHLET?

Established in 2004, the Public Health Laboratory of East Texas (PHLET) is a registered Laboratory Response Network (LRN) reference laboratory that provides public health laboratory services and bioterrorism testing to East Texas. LRN laboratories are funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as reference laboratories that are focused on public health preparedness. The LRN and its partners maintain an integrated national and international network of laboratories that are fully equipped to respond quickly to acts of chemical or biological threats, emerging infectious diseases, and other public health threats and emergencies.

PHLET provides testing for agents of bioterrorism and emerging pathogens to public health partners, clinical laboratories, and law enforcement agencies serving Texas Health Service Regions 4/5N, covering 35 counties in East Texas. PHLET serves the following counties: Anderson, Angelina, Bowie, Camp, Cass, Cherokee, Delta, Franklin, Gregg, Harrison, Henderson, Hopkins, Houston, Jasper, Lamar, Marion, Morris, Nacogdoches, Newton, Panola, Polk, Rains, Red River, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Smith, Titus, Trinity, Tyler. Upshur, Van Zandt, Wood.

Why is PHLET important?

LRN reference labs like PHLET can perform tests to detect and confirm the presence of a threat agent or emerging pathogen. These labs ensure a timely local response in the event of a threat incident. Rather than having to rely on confirmation from labs at CDC, many reference labs are capable of producing conclusive results. This allows local authorities to respond quickly to emergencies.

The LRN is simply a national network of local, state and federal public health, hospital-based, food testing, veterinary and environmental testing laboratories that provide laboratory diagnostics and the capacity to respond to biological and chemical threats and other public health emergencies. The LRN was founded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

How does PHLET improve health in the region?

As a local laboratory, located right here in East Texas, PHLET is able to respond quickly to disease and terrorism threats affecting East Texas.

Other services that PHLET offers include:

  • Trains and prepares the sentinel laboratories in our region to utilize standardized testing protocols to rule-out critical biological agents (potential threats)
  • Trains and prepares East Texas laboratories to recognize and refer suspect biological agents to LRN reference laboratories
  • Performs tests to detect and confirm (rule-in) potential biological threats such as Anthrax and emerging disease such as Zika Virus
  • Trains and prepares East Texas laboratories and other health partners on how to properly and safely package and ship those biological agents

Is PHLET accessible by the public or just healthcare professionals?

Health department officials, laboratories and law enforcement members (FBI, Police, Fire/Hazmat) may submit samples to PHLET. We do not accept samples from the general public.

What is a Public Health Lab?