Nevada State Public Health Lab: Scientific sleuths find answers

RENO, NV (KOLO) So far in Washoe County, more than 90 people have been hospitalized with the flu.

Recently two local high schools have seen an outbreak of whopping cough.

Two years ago, Lemmon Valley residents were asked to turn in their dirty tap water to see what kind of contaminates it contained.

All of these confirmations and analysis were done at the Nevada State Public Health Lab.

Dr. Mark Pandori is the lab's latest director.

“We are tucked away here. But really the amount of testing, the variety testing we do is extremely broad,” says Dr. Mark Pandori, the Nevada State Public Health Lab Director.

The lab is affiliated with the UNR School of Medicine and is located on the north end of campus.

Inside it looks pretty much how you would imagine.

Lab coats, long hall ways, and of course specific equipment which makes invaluable confirmation for families, schools, hospitals, or public health agencies.

One very crucial role the lab plays, is state mandated newborn testing.

Blood samples are taken from a babies who are no more than 24 to 48 hours old.

They are sent to the lab from all over Nevada.

The tests will find diseases like cystic fibrosis, thyroid, or amino acid disorders which can have a big impact on the child.

“And it is actually what we call our highest volume of tests we do here,” says Dr. Padori. We’ve tested over the last couple of years an average of 35,000 babies per year here. Translating to over half a million lab test,” he says.

The lab takes medical and biological samples and helps confirm a diagnosis or locate an unsettling virus, bacteria or chemical element.

But the work goes beyond that.

Experts here can spot medical outbreaks or trends, or help identify a potential public health threat even before they happen.

Scientific sleuths we literally couldn't live without.