The Wyoming Public Health Laboratory can now test a single swab for both the coronavirus and both types of influenza, the state told providers last week.
The new testing method was approved via emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, the letter to providers says. Testing results will now include three blanks: one indicating if COVID was detected, a second for influenza A and a third for influenza B.
The method “will remain at not cost to the specimen submitter.”
“We believe this will be a valuable development as we move closer to flu season in Wyoming,” Health Department spokeswoman Kim Deti said in an email earlier this month. “I’d also say it’s a further sign of how our lab has continued to adapt and improve what we can offer to Wyoming during this pandemic. The staff there have worked extremely hard all along and have done excellent work.”
While there are rapid flu tests available and administered in clinics, the lab-processed samples are more accurate, Deti said. The benefit of the new test is it’s one swab, a more efficient process at the lab and confirmation of a diagnosis. Influenza is usually one of the boxes providers have checked before testing for the coronavirus.
The Health Department — as well as the local Casper agency — has been particularly concerned about the coming flu season, which typically begins in October and ends in the spring, with the peak hitting in mid-winter.
“We want to make sure that we can identify flu so that we can implement those measures which are known to be quite effective and control disease that way,” State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist told the Star-Tribune. “And so certainly, moving forward into the fall, we’re going to have both influenza and COVID. Symptoms are going to look fairly similar in many cases, and it is important that we be able to do surveillance and testing for both of those conditions.”
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