Changes To H1N1 Testing - - Texoma news, weather and sports

Changes To H1N1 Testing


GRAYSON CO., TX -- The H1N1 virus is in Texoma. Doctors say it is here, but how widespread? We really don't know, because doctors are no longer testing most patients who walk through the door with flu-like symptoms. But health officials say it's nothing to over react about. Katy Blakey has more.

If you walk through the door of the local emergency room or doctor's office and are feeling fluish, chances are you won't be tested for swine flu.

"They only want us in the emergency department to test folks for H1N1 who meet certain criteria," said Dr. Al Cardenas with Wilson N. Jones Hospital in Sherman.

That's a change from months past where doctors conducted tests to determine if a patient was infected with H1N1, because at the time national and global health organizations weren't quite sure just how bad this outbreak would be.

"At that point we didn't know the magnitude or the impact of it."

But now health officials know what they are working with.

"Really, this illness shouldn't be any worse than the quote "flu" of years ago."

The only folks who most likely will be tested for H1N1 are pregnant women, children or the elderly with medical problems or those with pre-existing conditions, because people in those groups may experience more severe symptoms.

"Well what we are assuming is those folks who we are not testing but show up with similar symptoms by de facto are going to get it or we call them a viral illness," said Dr. Cardenas. "So, although we can not say definitively that they have the H1N1 flu, we can say they have a flu-like illness or influenza-like illness.

Treatment for swine flu or "regular flu" is the same. No antibiotics, but rather your over the counter pain relievers, plenty of fluids and lots of rest.

But if you just have to know whether or not you have the swine flu, it will cost you.

A "rapid" test done in the doctor's office can cost as little as $20, but is less accurate. A lab test can cost upwards of $200 and take several more days to complete. But your chance for swine flu or any illness can be avoided, by just maintaining good hygienic practices - washing your hands, using hand sanitizer and getting a good night's sleep and avoiding exposure to the virus.

So are we making too much out of H1N1?

"I don't think we're making too much out it," said Dr. Cardenas. "I think we're appropriately warning the public. I think what we need to do is to dissuade any fears that the public would have and treat this like we would any illness, by vigilance and by being observant and by doing certain things that will prevent and cut down on the transmission of it."

Katy Blakey, KTEN News