Beginning last week, Aegis Sciences began testing for monkeypox at its laboratories in Nashville, Tenn., adding potential capacity for up to 10,000 tests per week to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) national Laboratory Response Network (LRN).
To achieve this, Aegis will utilize the CDC’s orthopoxvirus test, which detects most non-smallpox-related orthopoxviruses, such as monkeypox. As of Friday, July 15, nearly 1,500 cases of the otherwise rare disease had been tracked in the United States, according to CDC figures – part of a larger global surge of the virus in recent months.
“The ability of commercial laboratories to test for monkeypox is an important pillar in our comprehensive strategy to combat this disease,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., said. “This will not only increase testing capacity but also make it more convenient for providers and patients to access tests by using existing provider-to-laboratory networks.”
Since June, the CDC has shipped tests to various commercial labs throughout the country and trained employees on their administration. Now, healthcare providers will also be able to order the orthopoxvirus test from Aegis the same as any other test, though individuals seeking monkeypox tests need to consult their healthcare provider first. Aegis will, in turn, use electronic laboratory reporting to chart results for various jurisdictions.
With the addition of Aegis, in combination with testing already provided by the Laboratory Response Network, Labcorp, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, and Question Diagnostics, the United States should be able to conduct up to 70,000 monkeypox tests per week by the end of July. The CDC expects that number to rise further in the days ahead as additional commercial labs come online.