December 18, 2019

This year, the PCR test for influenza is now available at CAMC Urgent Care in Cross Lanes and CAMC's outpatient clinics.

CAMC's laboratories at Women and Children's, General and Teays Valley hospitals used the PCR test during the 2018-19 respiratory season. PCR testing for influenza, RSV and other respiratory viruses has been available at Memorial Hospital in the virology laboratory since 2012.

The expansion of this procedure to the other hospitals and urgent care laboratory areas allows a sensitive and specific diagnosis of influenza A or B at that facility in about 15 minutes.

This is important to patient care because antibiotics are not needed for viral infections, and anti-viral medications are not needed for bacterial infections. The Abbott ID NOW test for influenza A and B uses an isothermal nucleic acid amplification technique to provide molecular results in approximately 15 minutes so that appropriate therapy can be determined while the patient is still in the emergency room, clinic or urgent care.

Reverse transcriptase PCR by Bio Fire Torch Instruments is used for inpatient and high-risk outpatient specimens because in addition to influenza A and B, this system identifies RSV, adenovirus, coronaviruses, parainfluenza viruses 1-4, bordetella pertussis, human metapneumovirus, picornavirus (entero and rhinoviruses), chlamydia pneumoniae and mycoplasma pneumoniae infections from the same specimen in about 50 minutes.

This is the first year that Bio Fire's community pneumonia panel has been available for intensive care and pulmonary patients.

In addition to the infectious agents listed above, bacteria such as legionella, haemophilus influenzae, streptococcus pneumoniae, and other pneumonia-causing bacteria are identified, as well as the presence of resistance genes.

This information is available to the physician in about one hour for bronchoscopy specimens or two hours of a sputum (saliva and mucus) specimen. Sputum specimens have to be verified as adequate by a gram stain before they are tested by the PCR test. This provides same day information allowing the correct antibiotic to be given within a day versus taking two to four days to grow and test susceptibilities.

Specimens are still processed for isolation to confirm antibiotic resistance and sensitivity, combining new genetic testing systems with standard testing for optimal patient care.

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