Local labs busy screening for H1N1 flu

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Behind closed doors and double pane glass Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital's microbiologist Nancy French is at work screening for Type A and Type B influenza. The specimens are from nasal washings or swabs. "We would receive it like this first," said French as she held up a vial. "We would then take that patient's specimen and transfer it to a tube."

Testing the biological hazards is the first step to detecting the H1N1 flu. "We are going to drop the patient's specimen onto this card. It's encoded with antigen," demonstrated French. The test is timed. Results come back rapidly. If the results are positive additional testing occurs in Nacogdoches and in Tyler. "We get testing here at the hospital, at our physician's office, our Texas Department of Health is taking our specimen and doing additional testing and then confirmed by cultures in Tyler," explained French.

Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital's lab is beginning to see the number of requests for flu testing swell. Biotechnologists say the state lab in Tyler is inundated with requests for further testing. Results for negative cases will be faxed, but notification of positive cases will come through a phone call.

"It's a defined reporting system that works," commented Tim Hayward, Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital administrator. "We got to make sure all the logistics are really clean and worked out so that we can get those answers back efficiently as possible," said Hayward.

Despite quality control rumors surface. Something for Hayward to check out. No fact can support the rumor and that's all Hayward is interested in, just the facts. "In cases like this common sense goes a long way and that's all we're trying to do is deal with fact," said Hayward.

Both Hayward and French are certain eventually a positive H1N1 case will be confirmed. Their desire is only mild cases will surface and the public learns to listen to the facts.