Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 99, Issue 5, pp 387–390 | Cite as

A Decentralized Molecular Diagnostic Testing Plan for Pandemic Influenza in the Ontario Public Health Laboratory System

  • Steven J. Drews
  • Anna Majury
  • Frances Jamieson
  • Garth Riley
  • Tony Mazzulli
  • Donald E. Low


The Ontario Public Health Laboratories system (OPHL) is in the midst of a six-year plan to implement molecular tools for pandemic influenza diagnostics in one central and three regional public health laboratories. This plan has been formulated as a consequence of: 1) experiences gained through severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and comments of the members of the Expert Panel on SARS and Infectious Disease Control (i.e., the Walker report); 2) a review of pandemic preparedness literature; 3) historical and epidemiologic discussions about previous pandemics; and 4) suggestions made by various pandemic working committees. The OPHL plan includes: 1) an aggressive restructuring of the overall molecular microbiology testing capacity of the OPHL; 2) the ability to shift influenza testing of samples between designated OPHL laboratories; and 3) the development of screening tools for pandemic influenza diagnostic tests. The authors believe that investing in increased molecular testing capacity for regional laboratories outside the greater Toronto area will be beneficial to the OPHL system whether or not an influenza pandemic occurs. Well-trained technologists and microbiologists, and the introduction of new technologies, will facilitate the development of a wide variety of molecular tests for other infectious diseases at public health laboratories geographically distant from Toronto, thus enhancing overall laboratory testing capacity in the province of Ontario.

Key words

Pandemic planning influenza molecular testing RT-PCR diagnosis 


Le système des laboratoires de santé publique de l’Ontario (LSPO) est à mi-parcours d’un plan de six ans visant à mettre en œuvre des outils moléculaires pour le diagnostic de la grippe pandémique dans un laboratoire central et trois laboratoires régionaux de dépistage sanitaire. Le plan en question a été formulé d’après: 1) les leçons de la crise du syndrome respiratoire aigu sévère (SRAS) et les commentaires des membres du Comité d’experts sur le SRAS et la lutte contre les maladies infectieuses (rapport Walker); 2) l’examen de la documentation sur la préparation à une pandémie; 3) les analyses historiques et épidémiologiques des pandémies antérieures; et 4) les suggestions de divers comités de travail sur les pandémies. Le plan des LSPO englobe: 1) une restructuration approfondie de l’ensemble des outils de dépistage basés sur la microbiologie moléculaire dans les laboratoires; 2) la possibilité de transférer d’un LSPO désigné à un autre l’analyse des échantillons grippaux; et 3) l’élaboration d’outils de sérodiagnostic de la grippe pandémique. Selon les auteurs, le fait d’investir davantage dans la capacité de dépistage moléculaire des laboratoires régionaux à l’extérieur du Grand Toronto serait bénéfique pour le système des LSPO, peu importe si une pandémie de grippe survient ou non. Des technologues et des microbiologistes bien formés, ainsi que l’implantation de nouvelles technologies, faciliteront l’élaboration d’un vaste éventail de tests moléculaires pour d’autres maladies infectieuses dans les laboratoires de dépistage sanitaire éloignés de Toronto, ce qui devrait améliorer globalement la capacité de dépistage en laboratoire en Ontario.

Mots clés

planification entourant une pandémie grippe tests moléculaires RT-PCR diagnostic 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven J. Drews
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Anna Majury
    • 4
    • 5
  • Frances Jamieson
    • 1
    • 3
  • Garth Riley
    • 1
  • Tony Mazzulli
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Donald E. Low
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Ministry of Health and Long-Term CarePublic Health Laboratories BranchEtobicokeCanada
  2. 2.Department of MicrobiologyMount Sinai HospitalTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of Laboratory Medicine and PathobiologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Ministry of Health and Long-Term CareKingston Public Health LaboratoryKingstonCanada
  5. 5.Department of Microbiology and ImmunologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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