October 31, 2014
Nevada's state agriculture lab processes samples from mosquitoes, birds, and horses to see if they carry the west nile virus, the turn around rate for a confirmation is one of the best in the nation.
Since April microbiologist Kim Priest has been looking for west nile virus in mosquitoes, bird swabs, and spinal fluid. It's a big responsibility. What she finds determines how health professionals around the state react to protect the public.
So far Priest has processed about 2000 samples. It can vary from day to day but on average she can process about 92 a day.
Mosquitoes make up a large majority of what is sampled. They are at first ground up once that's complete kim extracts RNA. It is tested to look for what is called enzymatic reaction which shows the presence of west nile or other virus. It appears bright fluorescent under the microscope. The process takes about four the five hours.
In all there is about a 24-hour turnover for results.
Priest says its rewarding work something she didn't think she's be doing just out of college.
The lab director here says the reason for such a quick turnover is the fact Priest devotes most of her time to West Nile Virus other labs across the country may not have the personnel to do that.