The South Texas Laboratory (STL) is a branch of the Department
of State Health Services (DSHS) Laboratory Services Section and is located in
Harlingen, Texas. This Laboratory is dedicated to providing high-quality,
accurate test results to residents of the Rio Grande Valley. It acts as a
Public Health Laboratory serving 10 Texas regions with more than 70 clinics. It
also supports local hospitals and local health departments.
This lab works as an extension of the DSHS headquarters
laboratory in Austin, Texas.
The STL operates as a full-service laboratory encompassing the general Clinical Laboratory testing, Mycobacteriology, Public Health Serology,
Consumer Microbiology, Influenza Surveillance Testing, and Emergency
- The Clinical Laboratory provides services such as, Clinical
Chemistry, Hematology and Urinalysis. The Clinical Laboratory performs toxicity
testing related to latent TB infection cases.
- The Mycobacteriology Section provides tuberculosis (TB) testing services
and has immediate access to medical authorities to access new cases and case
contacts. The Mycobacteriology Laboratory also serves as a Binational TB Laboratory
and has been instrumental in training Mexico border state laboratory TB
technologists to assist in the elimination of TB through the DSHS Binational
Program. The STL was recognized by Rotary International as an international
training center for TB testing for its work in training Mexican scientists in
TB testing practices. This joint efforts helps monitor and control TB along the
- The TB Section supports testing submitted by the University of
Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio on various special studies with the Tuberculosis
Trials Consortium through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- The Public Health Serology Section is the Sexually Transmitted
Disease (STD) Laboratory. Services include Syphilis Serology and are
provided for the Hidalgo County Health Department, Region 11 HIV/STD, clinics,
and local hospitals.
- Consumer Microbiology provides water testing for public water systems
in Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, Willacy, Zapata, Kenedy, Kleberg, Harris, and Bexar
counties for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The laboratory
also tests vended and bottled water samples for TCEQ’s Manufactured Foods
Division and provides water testing for individual wells and construction
samples. The STL is accredited by the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation
Program Institute for the microbiological examination of drinking water.
- The Emergency Preparedness Section responds to public health
emergencies and health threats and biological agents for bioterrorism testing,
which includes Bacillus anthracis, Yersinia
pestis, Francisella tularensis, Burkholderia spp., Brucella
spp., Ricin, and pandemic influenza for the Rio Grande Valley. The
Emergency Preparedness Section also performs influenza surveillance testing.
The STL Emergency Preparedness Section serves eight counties, local hospitals,
and reference laboratories and is a member of the Laboratory Response Network.
The STL professional staff is made up of competent Medical Technologists,
Medical Laboratory Technicians, Microbiologists, and Laboratory Technicians. A
highly-trained, dedicated support staff assists in all areas and provides
client support services. Laboratory activities are directed by a
licensed Laboratory Director and certified by the College of American
Pathologists or other approved certification entity.
The Administrative Laboratory Director is a registered Medical
Technologist. General Supervisors are all registered Medical Technologists and
have extensive laboratory experience.
STL is accredited by the Commission Inspection and Accreditation of
Laboratories of the College of American Pathologists (#21448-01) and is
accredited by the Joint Commission Accreditation of Hospital Organizations and
approved to provide clinical services under the Medicare Program (CLIA
DSHS/South Texas Laboratory
1301 S. Rangerville Road
Harlingen, TX 78552
Aurora Martinez, M.T.
Laboratory Branch Manager
DSHS - MC1917
PO Box 149347
Austin, TX 78714-9347
Last updated Oct. 19, 2016