Bacteriology Section

The Bacteriology and Parasitology section performs a wide range of diagnostic testing. Specimens are accepted from public and private agencies, hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices. Specimens may be from humans, animals, the environment, or foods. We have surge capacity for testing during outbreaks or increased incidence. We provide telephone consultation and referral of unusual specimens to the CDC. The following is a brief description of the services that we provide.

DNA probe testing for Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis
The amplified probe is offered for use on routine screening of endocervical and urethral swab specimens as well as male and female urine specimens.

Parasitic Diseases
The laboratory no longer routinely offers this service. Please call for assistance during outbreaks or in identifying unusual parasites.

Reference Bacteriology Isolation, identification, serogrouping, and serotyping of bacterial species from submitted samples or reference culture.

Virology Section

The virology section isolates and identifies viruses, antibodies, and antigens from submitted samples.

Maine HETL PulseNET functionality for foodborne illness

The Maine HETL is currently an active participant of PulseNET.  PulseNET is a cooperative network of laboratories headquartered at Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. Pulsenet allows laboratory scientists and epidemiologists to link cases and foodstuffs to outbreaks using DNA fingerprint from pathogenic bacteria.  PulseNET laboratories include state, county and municipal public health labs as well as labs operated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Canadian government.  Member laboratories perform DNA fingerprinting on food-borne bacteria isolated from clinical specimens or suspect food stuffs. These bacteria, including  E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter and Listeria are strain typed using bacterial DNA fingerprinting or  pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE).  PFGE is a method of strain identification based on analysis of the genomic DNA of an isolate of an organism. The genomic DNA is digested with restriction enzymes into fragments that are electrophoretically separated on an agarose gel. The gel is photographed and the resulting “DNA fingerprint” can be compared to that of other isolates to determine their probable relatedness. The network provides rapid comparison of DNA fingerprints shared by member laboratories through an electronic database at CDC. For more information please visit: