The state Health Department now has the capacity to test locally for the deadly Ebola virus.
The State Laboratories Division announced Thursday it has received the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention test developed by the U.S. Department of Defense for the 2014 outbreak that resulted in thousands of deaths in West Africa.
"With the nation on heightened alert for possible Ebola cases, having laboratory capabilities in Hawaii allows us to have earlier results and timely support for our local disease investigations," Health Department Director Linda Rosen said in a press release. "Our state is so fortunate to have a public health laboratory with a talented and flexible workforce that can respond quickly to community needs."
The testing is similar to methods used for viruses such as influenza, West Nile virus and dengue, DOH said. The department will determine whether or not testing is warranted after potential case is reported.
"Laboratory staff have been fully trained on how to safely work with high risk specimens, including those that may contain Ebola or biological terrorism agents," said State Laboratories Director Christian Whelen.
Ebola test results requires confirmation by the CDC in Atlanta. To date, 31 public health laboratories nationwide have testing capability for the virus.