New test for flu, flu-like illnesses

New test for flu, flu-like illnesses

They aren't seeing much of the flu at Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock this year, however, "we are still seeing a lot of kids with influenza like illness," said Director of Infection Control Craig Gilliam.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - They aren't seeing much of the flu at Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock this year, however, "we are still seeing a lot of kids with influenza like illness," said Director of Infection Control Craig Gilliam.

That means illnesses like coronavirus or adenovirus.

"In years past we couldn't diagnose that because we didn't have a good laboratory test," said Gilliam. "Now we do."

The test is administered through what's called a film array machine, and Children's Hospital is the only place in Arkansas you can find one. Here's how it works: first doctors take a cell sample using a nose swab.

"They get better DNA results with this swab than them older more conventional swabs," Gilliam said while holding a swab.

Next the sample is prepped and run through the film array machine. In a little over an hour, you get the results.

"For all of these different viruses," said Gilliam while pointing at a computer displaying the results, "you'll see non-detected for some and then you'll see detected."

So you would've felt sick in year's past, but you might not have known why. Not any more ...

"Now," explained Gilliam, "if they don't have influenza and we can prove they have another virus, then they can give them a different therapy that may mean less time in the hospital, it may be less costly as well."

The film array machine at Children's Hospital tests for 15 different respiratory illnesses, including the flu. Doctors at Children's say they've only diagnosed six cases of the flu so far this year. Last year at this time -- they say they'd already diagnosed about 250.
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