Monday, May 4, 2009

Swine Flu Creates Backlog at Labs

So, the Swine Flu, now being called H1N1 (which isn't even bloody accurate as there are other flu that shares that type) or North American Flu, has turned out to probably not be that big of a deal. However, it has exposed some enormous problems in our medical testing labs. For example, where I live not far from the Mexican border, we have hundreds of suspected cases of flu, but no confirmed cases yet, even though they sent the first test swabs off a week ago. It's no surprise there are so many cases here, as many of the people here, even if they've been here for decades or even generations, have family in Mexico, and with the Easter holiday, many of them went to visit relatives and vice versa.
Texas lab swamped with swine flu samples
© 2009 The Associated Press
May 2, 2009, 12:07PM

AUSTIN, Texas — Only a fraction of the nearly 2,500 nasal swabs sent to the state health department lab have been tested. The Austin lab had tested 181 of the 2,492 nasal swabs received from counties around the state by Friday, Department of State Health Services spokesman Doug McBride told the Austin American-Statesman for Saturday's editions.

The lab's single testing machine became overwhelmed Wednesday when samples began flooding in from around the state. Three more machines are being added, more staff is being trained to run on two more shifts and the lab will work seven days a week to catch up, McBride said. The lack of test results does not change how doctors treat patients, but makes an accurate count of cases impossible.

"I'd like to know how many (cases) there are," said Dr. Pat Crocker, medical director of Dell Children's Medical Center in Austin. "We have heard disappointingly little from the state."

That hospital's emergency room received twice as many patients Thursday as usual. On Friday, the hospital set up three air-conditioned tents with cots to treat overflow patients in a covered parking area. After state labs test samples from counties, they forward possible swine flu samples to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention lab in Atlanta for final confirmation. The CDC also is sending supplies to state labs so they will be able to start making their own confirmations.

"Part of what we're trying to do is speed up the confirmation time," said CDC spokesman Scott Bryan. With the additional machines and personnel, the state lab should be able to handle 200 cases per day, whereas now it can do 70, McBride said.
Maybe it would behoove them to take this as a lesson, because if this really were a virulent pandemic that would kill a lot of people, many would be dead before they could even get the results back. But I won't hold my breath. As history has shown, we never learn anything.

Oh, and on that note, so much for Texas being self-sufficient as that gasbag Perry was spouting a couple weeks ago. Instead, he's accepted federal money and federal stockpiles of Tamiflu, and then declared a state of emergency so Texas is first in line for federal aid. We can't even test 10% of the samples of flu in less than a week and a day, much less operate without federal assistance. I dare say that horse won't ride.


  1. I'm sorry to say that the liberal bloggers aren't gonna let up on your Gov for quite a while now.

    It may have been much easier to deal with this if the Rethugs wouldn't have forced the removal of the Pandemic Funding that Rep David Obey (D, WI)had put into the stimulus package.

  2. Ah, they can ride Perry all they want. He deserves it for his stupid remarks. :D

  3. I agree~ if this were deadly here people would literally be dying, waiting for results. The CDC seems to be taking over a week to post things as well. They sure needed this drill as a wake up call.

    Perry sure changed his tune from seceding, to Help me government with the flu epidemic.

    Which is it Perry? Go it alone or Help Me!!!???

  4. Great blog ! I appreciate seeing you at my place too since the loonie who stuck up for the race killers had a Texas IP addy ! I like the story of Perry's previous life as a subsidized cotton farmer whose crops are stored at government expense all year having the cojones to run his mouth about handouts and bailouts ! Keep up the grat work - peace.