The Emerging Viral Threat (EVT) Lab at LSU Health Shreveport has now sequenced a total 651 Louisiana SARS-CoV-2 virus genomes making them the largest contributor to date of genetic data on SARS-CoV-2 in the state. SARS-CoV-2, which is short for ‘Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2,’ is the virus that causes COVID-19, and viral genome sequencing is contributing to a worldwide effort to fight the ongoing pandemic.
With the support of Louisiana Governor, John Bel Edwards, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), scientists at LSU Health Shreveport have established the Emerging Viral Threat (EVT) Laboratory to address the need for faster detection and processing of COVID-19 tests. The EVT Lab at LSUHS is the first in North Louisiana approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to conduct and analyze tests to determine if an individual has COVID-19. The EVT Lab is currently in operation and fully staffed as of March 25, 2020.
OUR MISSION is to serve the citizens of the state and diagnose the presence of SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 and then to become the region’s top surveillance lab for the detection of new viruses and other pathogens that could affect the health of citizens of the region and state.
New: Phylodynamic analysis of Louisiana SARS-CoV-2 outbreak
Phylogenetic analyses are used to place SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus genomes on a “family tree,” and are generated using powerful software designed by genetic epidemiologists. The resulting trees enable scientists and curious members of the public to interact with viral genetic sequence information to infer possible transmission chains and to visualize the relatedness of various SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus genomes from around the state. The raw data were generated by determining the sequence of viral RNA genomes recovered from patient samples. The organizations that contributed viral sequence data from Louisiana were LSUHS EVT laboratory, MiGS Center, Garry Lab (Tulane), the Andersen Lab (Scripps Research), BioInfo Experts, LSU Baton Rouge, Gingko Bioworks, the Louisiana Department of Public Health and the CDC. Once sequence data is generated, it is uploaded to GISAID, a science initiative for epidemics/pandemics that has become a key resource for international collaboration efforts to combat COVID-19 and influenza.
The EVT Lab is working to obtain complete genome sequences of the viruses from samples in cooperation with nationwide and international efforts to better understand the virus, enable molecular epidemiology work, such as contact tracing, and to inform future vaccine efforts. LSU Health Shreveport is also the only academic center in Louisiana with this capability. The lab provides the same offerings as CDC testing locations and is working collaboratively with the World Health Organization and CDC-sanctioned testing labs, following the same testing criteria.
“LSU Health Shreveport is proud to have nationally and internationally renowned NIH funded virologists on our faculty. Creation of the Emerging Viral Threat (EVT) laboratory brings together numerous regional experts to provide urgently needed COVID-19 testing solutions while allowing our community and state to be prepared for future viral threats when they occur."
Chris Kevil, PhD, Vice Chancellor for Research
- Is the EVT Lab accredited?
- Do EVT Lab staff members have to follow personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines?
- What tests are the EVT Lab running?
- Who runs and works in the EVT Lab?
- What will the EVT Lab do after the COVID-19 pandemic?
- Does the EVT Lab test for anything besides COVID-19?
- I'm interested in obtaining data from the EVT Lab. Who should I contact?
- What are the dates for mobile COVID-19 test sites?
- How will I receive my test results?
- Who do I contact if I have a question about SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19?
- How do I get a test?
- Are tests available to the general public?
- How do I get my results?
- How quickly are test results received?
- Can the EVT Lab come to my business and do testing?
- I think I had COVID-19 previously but was not tested. How can I be tested for antibodies?
KTBS3 - Andrew Yurochko, Professor of Microbiology and Immulogy at LSUHS, shares, “When you think about total tests, 0.1% of the total tests of the entire country are done right here in Northwest Louisiana, where we’ve focused on our own citizens, not just in Shreveport or Caddo Parish, but in all of Region 7 which is Northwest Louisiana.”
The Bossier Chamber of Commerce honored “Patriots of the Pandemic” to recognize those in the community who played key roles in fighting back the pandemic. LSU Health Shreveport’s COVID Surveillance Strike Team received a special Eagle Award for testing coordination inside nursing homes.
The Emerging Viral Threat Lab at LSU Health Shreveport has processed over 110,000 COVID-19 test samples from multiple public health regions of the state and created over 170,000 test kits which were distributed throughout the state during its first six months of operation.
Health Matters host, Dr. Sanford Katz, was joined by LSUHS's Andrew Yurochko, PhD, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and Carroll Feist Chair of Viral Oncology and Dr. John Vanchiere, Chief of the Department of Pediatrics Infectious Diseases. to discuss testing, treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.
The state's peak in April came mostly from widespread infections in New Orleans. Now the rest of Louisiana is surging, reports William Taylor Potter and Michael Stucka, Lafayette Daily Advertiser and USA TODAY.
Chancellor Dr. G. E. Ghali spoke at the COVID-19 press conference about the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Louisiana, the EVT Lab and testing in North Louisiana and the importance of wearing masks.
The Daily Beast reports, "Louisiana is getting pummeled by the virus. But without a comprehensive early testing program in Shreveport, it would have been worse still."
Griggs Enterprises and McDonald's has been providing lunch for several months. Their generosity during this time is so appreciated by our team members, who are working around the clock in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
From the formulation of an emerging viral threat lab to community testing, LSU Health Shreveport has actively fought COVID-19. Dr. Chris Kevil talks about testing, clinical trials and prevention.