Disease testing delayed after Alaska lab damaged in quake

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – A state health lab was damaged in the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck south-central Alaska, delaying scientists’ ability to test for tuberculosis, botulism and other dangerous diseases.

The Anchorage Daily News reports the Nov. 30 quake damaged 13 of the Anchorage facility’s secure testing rooms, forcing staff to send bacteria samples to labs in California and Washington state.

Germ-resistant walls made from layers of fiberglass cracked during the quake.

Bernd Jilly, chief of Alaska State Public Health Laboratories, says the specialized walls help protect lab scientists from getting infected while conducting tests.

Jilly says the rooms are being sterilized, and it’s uncertain when the about $200,000 in repairs will be conducted.

He says the testing delays do not present an “acute danger” to public health.

Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com