Welcome to SEALS Microbiology

The Laboratories / Staff Contacts
Requesting Tests
Collecting and Transporting Specimens

SEALS Microbiology
Diagnostic microbiology services to hospitals, clinics and communities of the South East Sydney, and the Wollongong and Shoalhaven Local Health Districts (LHDs) are provided by the laboratories of SEALS. The consultant staff are located at the Prince of Wales, St. George and Wollongong hospitals and may be contacted through the SEALS Call Centre, or after hours through the hospital switchboards.

Diagnostic testing is provided in each of the laboratories to support acute care services for the most efficient turnaround of results. These laboratories receive samples seven days a week with the period from 1am to 8am served by an on-call staff roster. Tests performed in lower numbers, or with greater complexity, are commonly referred to a laboratory that performs that test for the entire SEALS network. Reports are issued by each laboratory and are accessible electronically through PowerChart and ARGUS. Printed reports are sent to referring doctors and urgent reports can be faxed on request. Copies of reports are sent to doctors nominated on request forms and upon request to the SEALS Call Centre.

SEALS Microbiologists are actively involved with all the facilities of the LHD’s related to their laboratories and Prince of Wales Private Hospital. In addition to the diagnostic and consultative services, they are active on Infection Control committees, Antibiotic Stewardship programmes and Drug and Therapeutic committees. All the Consultants with conjoint academic appointments are involved with undergraduate and post-graduate teaching, as well as collaborative clinical research projects. Many honours students from the School of BABS, and medical students from SOMS at UNSW, have completed their projects in the laboratories of SEALS. Many senior scientific and medical staff have been actively engaged in the educational work of their professional organisations including the Australian Society for Microbiology, the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia and the Australian Institute of Medical Laboratory Scientists.

In addition to general diagnostic services, SEALS Microbiology hosts the WHO Neisseria Reference Laboratory for the Western Pacific Region,  The CDS Antibiotic Reference Laboratory  and is a reference laboratory for HIV serological testing.  The Virus Research Laboratory has an enviable reputation and produced many successful postgraduate students. A variety of quality assurance programmes and educational meetings for these services are hosted by SEALS Microbiology.

In recent years SEALS Microbiology has become closely involved with the NSW Organ and Tissue Donor Service, providing microbial bioburden assessment of banked tissue, serological and viral testing of living and cadaver donor blood samples and a consultant interpretation service for urgent results.


Hepatitis D and Hepatitis E Serology (June 2016)

Respiratory Virus Screen (June 2016)


The Laboratories/Staff Contact Details

Microbiologists Randwick
Prof William Rawlinson, AM FAHMS Director Serology and Virology Division (SAViD), OTDS Donor Screening Laboratory,
Phone: (+612) 9382 9113,
Email: william.ralinson@health.nsw.gov.au

Prof Monica Lahra, Director Bacteriology Laboratory, WHO Collaborating Laboratory in Sexually Transmitted Infections
Phone: (+612) 9382 9079
Email: monica.lahra@health.nsw.gov.au 

A/Prof Barrie Gatus, Senior Staff Specialist Bacteriology
Phone: (+612) 9382 9053
Email: barrie.gatus@health.nsw.gov.au 

Laboratory Manager
Kerry Varettas 
Phone: (+612) 9382 9100

Microbiologists Kogarah
A/Prof Peter Taylor, Director SEALS Central
Phone: (+612) 9113 3323
Email: peter.taylor@health.nsw.gov.au

Antibiotic Reference Laboratory:    Dianne Rafferty

Microbiologists Wollongong
Dr Peter Newton, Director SEALS South
Phone: (+612) 4222 5684
Email: peter.newton@health.nsw.gov.au

Prof Rawlinson completed his MBBS and BSc (Med ) at the University of Sydney in 1983, then obtained his Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of Physicians in Infectious Diseases, and subsequently specialised in virology, receiving his Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologist Australasia in Microbiology.  He obtained his PhD from the University of Cambridge, UK, in 1994, for his studies of the genomes of human murine CMV.

Responsibilities:  Prof Bill Rawlinson AM is the Senior Medical Virologist in SEALS. He heads the virology diagnostic laboratory, virology clinical trials, a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) licensed laboratory testing organ donors for blood borne viruses and the virology research laboratory.

Interests:  Prof Rawlinson is a molecular virologist with particular scientific expertise in herpes viruses (CMV), hepatitis virus HCV), enteroviruses, and respiratory viruses.
The research program in the virology research laboratory incorporates studies aimed at improving diagnosis and clinical care of:
• infants with congenital infections
• patients chronically infected with blood-borne viruses such as HCV
• transplant recipients undergoing immunosuppressive therapy
• enteric infections
• cystic fibrotic patients with viral exacerbations 
Senior Specialist Medical Microbiologist
A/Prof Barrie Gatus, MB. BS. MRCP. DTM&H. FRCPA. MASM. MD
Phone: (+612) 9382 9053 
Email: barrie.gatus@sesiahs.health.nsw.gov.au A/Prof Gatus is also a Conjoint Associate Professor, School of Medical Sciences at the University of New South Wales.

Senior Scientists
Bacteriology:    Jane Hanrahan
Serology:         Ross Whybin   
Virology:          Michael Fennell
Neisseria Reference Laboratory:   Athena Limnios

SEALS Microbiology – St George Hospital
Director:  Dr Peter Taylor

A/Prof Peter Taylor, Director SEALS Central
Phone: (+612) 9113 3323
Email: peter.taylor@health.nsw.gov.au

Laboratory Manager 
Chinmoy Mukerjee
Phone: (+612) 9113 3348
Email: chinmoy.mukerjee@health.nsw.gov.au
Senior Scientists
Molecular Laboratory:           A/Prof Christopher McIver
Mycobacteria Laboratory:     David Carr
Julie Allerton.

SEALS Microbiology – Wollongong Hospital
Director: Dr Peter Newton

Phone: (+612) 4222 5684
Email: peter.newton@health.nsw.gov.au

Dr Jeannie Botes
Phone: (+612) 4222 5008
Fax: (+612) 4222 5514
 Email: jeannie.botes@health.nsw.gov.au

Laboratory Manager
Mr Nelson Dennis
Phone: (+612) 4222 5359
Fax: (+612) 4222 5514
 Email: nelson.dennis@health.nsw.gov.au

Senior Scientists:
Heather Wren
Gary Tominez

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Requesting Tests

Samples submitted for examination must be labelled with both patient and specimen identification that enable correct correlation with the accompanying request form.  It is a legal requirement that all pathology test request forms are signed by the Medical Practitioner who orders the test, which must also be written in the person’s own hand, or individually selected from a test list.

The SEALS Test List is the primary guide to submitting specimens for examination. The request form must state clearly the test requested.

The consultants and senior laboratory staff are available to advise on requests for unusual tests.

Samples and requests may be submitted to any SEALS Specimen Reception location and the sample will be transported by SEALS staff to the appropriate laboratory. When samples are intended for tests in different Divisions of SEALS or to be referred to an external Laboratory Service, SEALS staff will aliquot, prepare and despatch specimens for those tests.

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Collecting and Transporting Specimens
General Considerations:
Microbiology samples are generally collected for diagnosis of infection, screening for carriage of specific organisms, exclusion of infection that may have an obscure presentation. A range of testing strategies including isolation of a pathogen by culture, serological demonstration of the immune response to an infection or molecular amplification of a target are used to demonstrate the presence of a specific organism.

Specimens submitted for culture must be representative of the infective process.  The mode of collection should be plainly stated. Transport to the laboratory must be prompt in view of the likely presence of contaminating normal flora from the site of collection. Some organisms may lose viability if transport is prolonged or undertaken in inhospitable conditions of temperature or exposure to air. Discuss these aspects before collecting a sample if you consider there may be problems of this nature. Similarly, delays in examinations will frequently be encountered with samples collected outside normal laboratory hours. Contact the laboratory scientist to alert them to the impending arrival of an important specimen.

Specific specimen types:
- Urine specimens;
- Blood cultures;
- Swabs;
- Stool;
- Sputum and other respiratory samples;
- Environmental samples; and
- Special laboratories

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