Microbiology is the branch of biology studying the structure, function, uses, and modes of existence of microscopic organisms (life too small to be seen with the naked eye).
Microbiology covers several disciplines which include bacteriology (study of bacteria) and virology (study of viruses).
ESR experts work with bacteria and viruses that cause human disease, referred to as pathogenic. The mode of transmission of microbes can be from person-to-person, via contact with animals (zoonotic infections) or, within health care facilities, healthcare associated infections (HAI), previously known as hospital acquired or nosocomial infections.
As New Zealand’s national reference laboratory, we build on the diagnostic and reference testing performed in hospital and community laboratories by confirming the diagnosis of communicable diseases (e.g. whooping cough, listeriosis, meningitis, salmonellosis, influenza and many others) and taking the diagnosis a step further by characterising the bacteria or virus using molecular tools (molecular biology), phenotypic characteristics of the micro-organisms or serological techniques. Other testing, such as influenza surveillance, is done directly by screening specimens collected from patients, without referral from community laboratories.