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IU Health launches monkeypox lab testing, providing results in as little as 24 hours

Looking through a narrow window in a doorway, a person is testing a vial with monkeypox samples in it. They are facing away from the camera and wear a respiratory hood. Their arms are under a glass hood, and behind them is a table with a spray bottle of disinfectant.
Provided by IU Health
A new IU Health lab dedicated to testing monkeypox samples opened this week.

A new IU Health lab dedicated to testing monkeypox samples opened this week. The lab in Indianapolis will be the primary testing site for suspected monkeypox samples in Indiana.

Jessica Isaac is IU Health’s executive director for academic health center laboratories. She said the department responsible for the lab – the molecular pathology department – tries to respond to the needs of the moment.

“We were the first hospital-based laboratory to bring COVID testing live,” Isaac said. “So as soon as we found out about monkeypox being a real threat to Indiana, we knew that we were going to develop a monkeypox test.”

The lab has cut the turnaround on monkeypox tests from eight to 14 days to 24 to 48 hours.

“Having that test back more quickly enables quicker clinical decision-making, and a peace of mind – I think – for patients that are being tested that are worried,” she said.

READ MORE: Experts say they’re watching monkeypox but 'not as much concern' for average Hoosier

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Isaac said the turnaround also means people tested for monkeypox can be released from quarantine faster when they are negative for the virus. People who test positive for monkeypox are required to isolate for the duration of the illness – up to four weeks.

The lab’s current capacity for tests is 500 per day, but can grow to match demand. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Indiana has identified 162 cases of monkeypox.

The virus is spread through skin-to-skin contact, touching monkeypox sores, or through respiratory droplets during prolonged exposure.

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

Lauren is the digital editor for our statewide collaboration, and is based in Indianapolis at WFYI. Since starting for IPB News in 2016, she's covered everything from protests and COVID-19 to esports and policy. She's a proud Ball State University alumna and grew up on the west side of Indianapolis.