Biological, Chemical and Radiological Threats in Vermont

The Vermont Department of Health Laboratory responds to biological, radiological and chemical events in Vermont.

Biological Threats

The Vermont Department of Health Laboratory (VDHL) serves as a reference laboratory for the investigation or identification of suspect biothreat agents and emerging high consequence infectious diseases submitted by local first responders and law enforcement agencies, as well as Vermont health care providers.

Testing for the following agents requires consultation and approval from the Vermont Department of Health Laboratory prior to sample/specimen receipt:

  • Bacillus anthracis
  • Burkholderia spp.
  • Brucella spp.
  • Clostridium botulinum
  • Coxiella burnetii
  • Francisella tularensis
  • Ricin toxin testing
  • Variola (VZV rule-in/Orthopox rule-out)
  • Yersinia pestis.

The VDHL must be notified prior to submission of samples or specimens. 

Collection instructions and transport supplies for health care professionals and clinical laboratories can be provided.

The VDHL is a Reference Laboratory of the CDC’s Laboratory Response Network (LRN) for biological agents (LRN-B) and assists first responders, law enforcement and Vermont Sentinel Laboratories (clinical hospital labs) by providing training and support in sample/specimen collection, storage, shipment, evidence control measures, and recognition of biothreat agents.

More information from the CDC on Biological Terrorism

More information from the Health Department on Public Health Preparedness

Chemical Threats

The Vermont Department of Health Laboratory (VDHL) is a member of the CDC’s Laboratory Response Network for chemical agents (LRN-C)

In a chemical contamination event, the VDHL has the capability to rapidly detect exposure to chemical threat agents such as mustard gas, nerve agents, lewisite or heavy metals in clinical specimens such as urine or blood.

The Vermont LRN coordinates biological and chemical LRN activities with its partners including first responders, law enforcement and other state and federal public health entities. The Vermont LRN maintains an integrated laboratory network and promotes statewide laboratory connection and communication by assisting hospital laboratories with training and support in specimen collection, storage, and shipment.

Shipping instructions from the CDC on specimens collected from people who may have been exposed to chemical agents.

Radiological Threats

The Vermont Department of Health Laboratory (VDHL) is a partner in any statewide response in the event of a radiological threat. Radiological threats include improvised nuclear devices, radiological dispersal devices, nuclear power plant accidents resulting in a material release, and radiological tampering of foodstuffs.

The VDHL has the capability and experience to detect radioactive materials which are alpha, beta and/or gamma radiation emitters, including radioactive cesium, iodine and tritium.

The laboratory is an EPA partner as well as a member of the FDA Food Emergency Response Network and the Laboratory Response Network for Chemical Threats

More information about radiation emergencies and emergency preparedness from the CDC.