Colorado still waiting for swine flu tests
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER ” Colorado health officials were still awaiting test results Friday to find out how many people have swine flu in the state, and it could be the middle of next week before Colorado is equipped to do its own tests for the virus.
However, doctors insist the lag time in waiting for a federal lab to confirm swine flu cases isn’t hampering prevention efforts as the virus is acting like a garden-variety flu strain in Colorado, so far.
Health officials this week confirmed two people in metro Denver contracted swine flu, though both have recovered. Six more Colorado cases of suspected swine flu have yet to be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, where samples must be sent for confirmation.
To speed results, states including Colorado have sent staff to Atlanta for training in swine flu testing. They’ve returned with materials to do the tests in their states.
Mark Salley, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said Friday that a Colorado employee has already returned from training in Atlanta. It would be the middle of next week before Colorado could set up its own testing to confirm swine flu cases.
While they wait, Colorado health officials are repeating prevention tips and urging calm. So far, they say, there has been no link to school-age children and that people should simply practice good hygiene to avoid getting sick. Unlike other states, no large gatherings such as school graduations or sporting events have been called off in Colorado because of swine flu fears.
The state health department by Friday had shipped doses of antiviral medication to 13 locations in case the disease spreads.
Health officials say the long delay in swine flu test results this week is no cause for alarm. Even when Colorado can carry out its own tests, people who think they have swine flu won’t be tested unless they’re very sick or likely to spread the disease, doctors said Thursday.
“The ability to test is a limited resource,” said Dr. Ned Calonge, the health department’s chief medical officer.
Dr. Daniel Perlman, an infectious disease expert at Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver, agreed there is little reason to fret the delay in testing for swine flu.
“It doesn’t matter because if you have the symptoms of the flu, you should stay home,” Perlman said. “Most of the disease we’re seeing is mild disease and there’s no spread if you can stay home and isolate yourself.”
Colorado’s confirmed cases were an Arapahoe County woman in her 30s who traveled to San Diego and Mexico on a vacation, and a Douglas County man in his 40s who handles baggage at Denver International Airport. Both got sick April 26 but have since recovered.