INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana University Health announced Tuesday it has opened a “bio-secure” lab that will now serve as the main testing site for suspected monkeypox samples in Indiana.
Monkeypox is described by IU Health as “a highly infectious disease” that has spread across the US since first being discovered in May. Since the start of the spread, the health group has done testing and research to create a testing space in downtown Indianapolis.
The testing lab will be housed at the IU Health Pathology Laboratory on W. 11th Street and features “enhanced biosafety” that will allow scientists to deactivate the virus in submitted samples and them for the presence of monkeypox.
The current test capacity of the lab, IU Health said in a release, is 500 samples per day. Turn around times for results have improved with the establishment of the lab, they said, going from 8-14 days to only 1-2 days.
Vice President of the IU Health Lab System, Clark Day, said the lab will be “invaluable” to Hoosiers.
“Our ability to develop this test is testament to the expertise of Dr. Ryan Relich, our virologist and molecular pathology medical director, and his team,” Day said in a release. “To launch our test locally means patients throughout Indiana do not have to wait an extended time for their important test results.”
Since May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported 162 cases of monkeypox in Indiana. As of last week, 337 new cases were reported daily nationwide.
The monkeypox virus, IU Health said, is part of the same family of viruses that causes smallpox. Monkeypox is similar to smallpox but symptoms are reportedly milder and rarely fatal.