Public Health Laboratory Testing

Public Health Laboratory Services comprise the majority of programs of the Public Health and Environmental laboratories.  Testing is primarily performed on clinical specimens in the broad areas of chemistry and microbiology. The Microbiology Program processes more than 140,000 tests a year including both culture and non-culture procedures.

The laboratory provides drug abuse testing services for state judicial and law enforcement agencies, and tests for vaccine preventable diseases including measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, and varicella.

Working closely with epidemiologists at CDS, the laboratory performs testing to identify new cases or clusters of viral disease.

Programs include:

Milk and Dairy Testing

Sanitary Bacteriology unit analyzes potable and non-potable waters for several state agencies and tests dairy products produced by New Jersey dairies

Mosquito Surveillance

PHEL is part of a statewide surveillance network to test mosquitoes for presence West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus, St. Louis Encephalitis virus, and La Crosse virus. This network is made up of stakeholders including the PHEL, NJ State Mosquito Commission at the Department of Environmental Protection, and the 22 county mosquito agencies.


Rabies testing is a public health mandate. This unit performs rapid testing of potentially rabid animals to prevent human disease.

Flu Surveillance

PHEL is partnering with the NJDOH Communicable Disease Service to enhance influenza surveillance throughout the state. The molecular virology unit uses real time RT-PCR (reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction) to detect novel H1N1 influenza, as well as all seasonal strains of flu in clinical samples.

Bioterrorism Testing

Biothreat Response Laboratory applies microbiological and molecular technologies for rapid detection and identification of bioterrorism agents such as Bacillus anthracis (causative agent of anthrax). The laboratory is a member of the Laboratory Response Network (LRN). Molecular Detection Services Laboratory is dedicated to the evaluation, application and integration of molecular pathogen detection and characterization methods.

Newborn Screening

The Newborn Screening Program tests more than 110,000 dried blood spot samples per year from New Jersey’s newborns. State law requires that every baby born in the state be screened for 54 disorders that can cause serious health problems. These disorders may not be apparent at birth, but if left undetected and not treated early in life, can lead to problems that include mental retardation, disability, or even death. Babies with abnormal screening results are aggressively followed by the Newborn Screening and Genetic Services Program in Special Child Health and early Intervention Services to ensure that affected children and their families are linked with a primary care provider and the regional network of specialty care centers to receive timely and appropriate services.

Newborn Screening Program October 2013 Webinar on Use of Revised Collection Forms (IEM-1 and IEM-1a) [pdf 3.8M]


Last Reviewed: 9/6/2016