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Monkeypox sample handling error leads to internal lab investigation

"We are confident this was a one-time event, and we have implemented corrective actions to ensure an error like this does not happen again," Dr. Ball said.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Bureau of Laboratories is reporting a critical sample handling error that resulted in a false positive monkeypox test for one patient, and a false negative test for another patient in southwest Idaho.

Monkeypox testing was suspended temporarily on August 1, while laboratory staff conducted a full-scale investigation into the source of the error. Once staff was able to remedy the error, testing once again resumed at the Bureau of Laboratories and other commercial laboratories in the area.

Southwest District Health (SWDH) announced in a press release, "Lab results have confirmed that, to date, there are zero (0) confirmed cases of monkeypox in the Southwest District Health region. The region Southwest District Health serves includes Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington Counties, respectively."

SWDH is encouraging anyone experiencing an "unexplained skin rash with or without a fever" to contact their healthcare provider and avoid contact with others. Call ahead to notify healthcare workers if possible.

Tell your doctor if in the month before developing symptoms: 

  • You had contact with a person who might have had monkeypox. 
  • You were in an area where monkeypox has been reported (currently, Europe, North America, South America, Australia) or in an area where monkeypox is more commonly found (the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan).

SWDH recommends community members stay current on monkeypox trends in our area; individuals and families can reduce the risk of contracting and spreading monkeypox with informed decision making.

"We are confident this was a one-time event, and we have implemented corrective actions to ensure an error like this does not happen again", Idaho Bureau of Laboratories Chief Dr. Christopher Ball said. "We remain committed to providing Idahoans accurate and timely information as we respond to this new outbreak. We sincerely apologize to all those who were impacted by this unfortunate situation."

The affected patients have been notified along with anyone who may have been in contact with them.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said they are committed to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of all Idahoans. 

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