Texas lab swamped with swine flu samplesMaybe 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.
© 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.
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.