As the state's statutorily established public health and environmental laboratory, the State Hygienic Laboratory is responsible for detecting and investigating threats to health. This surveillance role is critically important with the goal of making Iowa the healthiest state in the nation. And the Hygienic Laboratory with its staff and facilities is providing national leadership with this service.
Through the laboratory system - across the state and the nation - the Hygienic Lab monitors for both environmental and biological threats to human health. Among the threats detected in the past year include the strain of influenza A (H3N2) variant. Iowa was among the first five states to detect the new strain as part of routine influenza surveillance.
Our environmental monitoring program also expanded during fiscal year 2012 with the revival of the herbicide monitoring program for 76 Iowa rivers and streams. This critical evaluation of our waterways is expected to continue through June of 2013. It is especially important to Iowans because of our reliance on our land and our dependence on safe drinking water.
Our sophisticated testing and surveillance systems also are at work identifying the source of foodborne outbreaks. Our laboratorians extract the DNA fingerprints of pathogenic bacteria and then use that as a first warning sign for a potential outbreak.
While annual reports by definition document activities of the year just past, I hope that you will look forward with me to see the promise that tomorrow holds. We anticipate that our ability to rapidly identify threats to human health will only get better as we include the identification of environmental influences on genetic predispositions.
Adopting such advancements is central to the Hygienic Laboratory's charge as Iowa's environmental and public health laboratory. It also is a public trust that we are committed to in serving Iowans in all 99 counties.