Flu tests only given if criteria is met

If you've got severe cough, muscle aches and fever, doctors can determine if you've at least got the flu with a simple test.

The swine flu is type A flu. ER physician Philip Schwarzman says a rapid test like can tell the difference between influenza A or B.

"This week we did have a potential patient. They were sick they actually had influenza A and within 24 hours we did find out they were negative for swine flu," said Dr. Schwarzman.

The specimen has to be sent to a government lab where scientists check to see if it's the actual swine flu strain.

"There are a number of H1N1, so you have to put a tag on it to see if it's of swine origin," said Dr. Christopher Atchison.

While this ER has a good supply of flu tests, doctors will only give you one based on your symptoms and whether or not you may have been exposed to swine flu.

"And these are people who have had contact with a known patient or come from an area where it's been picked up," said Dr. Schwarzman.

Based on this criteria, Dr. Schwarzman says he doesn't expect to be sending to many of these tests to government labs.

As for the rise in flu like cases, he says what we're seeing is a bit of seasonal flu a little late in the season.

"The vast majority of people with these symptoms do not need to come to an emergency department. And they really only need to come if their symptoms become severe," said Dr. Schwarzman.

The prevailing advice: treat flu like symptoms like you would treat it normally. Call the doctor if you're concerned and only head to emergency rooms if you're really sick.


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