Influenza is currently widespread throughout the nation at epidemic proportions. During influenza epidemics, clinical assessment predicts the presence of influenza infection virtually as well as laboratory testing. Therefore, it is no longer necessary to perform viral testing on ambulatory patients who present with illness consistent with influenza before beginning antiviral treatment. Antiviral treatment for Influenza should be started as soon as possible to have a beneficial effect.
Shortages of supplies and medications frequently occur during Influenza epidemics. However, diagnosis of specific viral respiratory infection remains important for hospitalized patients.
Please follow the current recommendations:
- Limit availability of viral transport media at ambulatory sites.
- Emergency departments are to limit viral respiratory testing to patients expected to be admitted.
- Do not perform testing for test of cure.
Thank you for your support during this time. Please direct any questions to Laboratory Services via the “contact us” link above.
There has been a minor change to the influenza testing methods performed by the Spectrum Health Regional Laboratory (SHRL) to improve the accuracy and timeliness of patient results, while simplifying the ordering process for providers. In past years during respiratory illness season, the lab performed influenza rapid antigen testing due to its low cost and rapid turnaround time, with negative specimens reflexed to PCR for confirmatory testing. Approximately 85% of specimens tested by a rapid antigen method typically reflexed, with those patients charged for performing both tests.
As of July 11, 2017, Spectrum Health Regional Laboratory will offer Streptococcus pneumoniae urine antigen testing. This testing is currently sent to Mayo Medical Laboratories. By bringing testing in-house, result turnaround time will be improved by 1 day, testing will be available 7 days per week (instead of Monday – Friday), and testing can be offered at a reduced charge to our patients.
On May 1, 2017, Spectrum Health Regional Laboratory adjusted the reference range for C-Reactive Protein (CRP) from ≤10 mg/L to ≤5.0 mg/L.
As of May 2, 2017, Spectrum Health’s Infection Control & Prevention department has declared the system to be officially within “Non-Influenza Season” based on a return to baseline prevalence at both the local and state levels.
In anticipation of “Flu season”, it is valuable to revisit available testing methods for influenza and discuss when each test should be ordered. Though generally a self-limited infection for otherwise healthy individuals, influenza can be particularly severe for high-risk populations including infants, elderly, pregnant women, and immunocompromised hosts. Influenza incidence is largely seasonal with the majority of cases occurring between December and April of each year.