AUSTIN (KXAN) — A lab based in Austin will help with testing specimens from across the United States for monkeypox, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sonic Healthcare USA will start testing for the virus Monday using the CDC’s orthopoxvirus test, “which detects most non-smallpox related orthopoxviruses, including monkeypox.”
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a press release commercial labs like Sonic Healthcare USA help increase testing capacity by making it easier for providers and patients to access tests through existing networks.
Sonic will do its testing in Austin but can accept specimens through its network of labs across the country. The company’s office is in northwest Austin near U.S. Highway 183.
“Healthcare providers, nationwide, can order the orthopoxvirus test from Sonic just as they normally would order other tests,” the CDC explained.
In late June, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced five commercial labs would start offering monkeypox testing. Since then, tests have been shipped to those labs, and their workers have been trained on how to administer the test, the CDC said.
Now that those commercial labs are up and running, they have increased testing capacity from 6,000 at first to up to 80,000 specimens per week, according to the CDC.
The CDC encourages anyone with a rash that looks like monkeypox to talk to their health care provider about possible testing. To get a monkeypox test, you must consult with a health care provider first; you cannot go straight to a Sonic lab and request a test.
Monkeypox in Austin area
As of last Thursday, Austin Public Health is reporting nine confirmed cases of monkeypox in Travis County. The agency is also investigating eight other presumptive cases.
In Texas as a whole, there are at least 42 confirmed cases.
APH updates its monkeypox case count data for the county every Thursday online.