Around the world, tuberculosis is responsible for over one million deaths per year. The recent emergence of multi- and extensively drug resistant strains (MDR and XDR, respectively) represents a threat to public health worldwide, particularly when associated with HIV. 

Other mycobacteria species, referred to as nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), are ubiquitous environmental bacteria that can also cause human disease. The incidence of NTM disease is increasing and in many parts of the United States it exceeds that of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, creating a public health concern. Consequently, there is an urgent need for new tools for early detection and identification of these strains.

As the reference laboratory for New York State permitted laboratories, our role is to identify these organisms and in turn improve patient management and care.

The Mycobacteriology Laboratory at Wadsworth Center performs a full range of conventional and molecular testing procedures for rapid and accurate identification and characterization of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the agent of tuberculosis, as well as for non-tuberculous mycobacterium species, including Mycobacterium abscessus.

The Mycobacteriology Laboratory also provides reference and consultation services to permitted laboratories and agencies from other states. Additionally, this laboratory is responsible for defining the minimal laboratory standards in mycobacteriology.

CLIA# 33D2005937 | PFI# 8523

Program Updates

Tanya Halse Receives National TB Laboratorian Award

Wadsworth Center’s Tanya Halse was the 2022 recipient of the Ed Desmond Award from the National Tuberculosis Controllers Association (NTCA).  This award honors exemplary service, dedication, or leadership to a tuberculosis (TB) laboratory professional and it’s easy to see why Tanya was nominated by Dr. Margaret Oxtoby and colleagues in the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) Bureau of TB Control.

Wadsworth Center Collaborates as part of CRyPTIC: Comprehensive Resistance Prediction for Tuberculosis: an International Consortium

Tuberculosis­­­ - The Tortoise Would you be surprised to know that tuberculosis (TB) was the leading infectious disease killer in the world in 2019? Estimates of deaths attributed to TB were second only to COVID-19 in 2020 (roughly 1.5 million versus 1.8 million reported deaths, respectively). In the ongoing race to be the microbe responsible for the largest number of deaths across the planet, “hares” like HIV and SARS-CoV-2 explode onto the scene and appear to leave everyone else in the dust.

Wadsworth Center's TB Laboratory Featured in CAP TODAY

Wadsworth Center scientists from the Mycobacteriology and Bacteriology Laboratories, the Bioinformatics and Statistics Core, and the Sequencing Core, supported, developed and validated a test based on whole genome sequencing that provides comprehensive resistance detection for TB. The TB Laboratory started work on a whole genome sequencing resistance test about five years ago. After demonstrating that the test provided rapid, accurate and comprehensive drug prediction, they began using it as the first line of testing on Oct. 1, 2018.

Wadsworth Center’s TB Lab Launches New Testing Algorithm Based Upon Years of Development and Evaluation

Magnitude of Disease Impact Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) is a group of closely related and very important pathogens, infecting a quarter of the world’s population; New York State ranks 3rd in the nation for highest number of cases, approximately 800 new cases diagnosed per year.

Wadsworth Center Chosen as a Pilot Site for Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS)

New York’s Wadsworth Center Laboratory was one of five state public health laboratories selected by the Association of Public Health Laboratories as a pilot site for Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS). The Wadsworth Center Bacteriology and Mycobacteriology Laboratories will sequence all strains from patients in New York State, including New York City, with this highly comprehensive testing approach that assesses all 4.4 million bases of the MTBC genome.

Mycobacteriology Laboratory Lends a Hand in New York City Case

Earlier this year, the Wadsworth Center became the first and only state public health laboratory in the nation to perform whole genome sequencing (WGS) of tuberculosis (TB) specimens. One case illustrates the enormous impact of WGS on TB testing and its central role in rapidly detecting and preventing the spread of drug-resistant TB strains among New York State’s general population.

Dr. Anil Ojha - Turning the Tide on Tuberculosis

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 2 million people are infected and 23,000 people die annually from drug resistant bacteria in the United States alone. Drug resistant tuberculosis in particular is described by CDC as a Serious Threat. For these reasons, bacterial drug resistance is a primary research focus for the Wadsworth Center.