Officials with the University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory in Iowa City recently sent out more than 1,400 specimen collection tubes to Iowa hospitals and clinics. Lab spokesperson Pat Blake says those tubes are now being returned with samples that will be tested for possible cases of swine flu.
“To date, we’ve received a total of almost 160…from Monday through about noon today – we’ve received 160 of the specimen collection tubes back and they are coming from all over the state,” Blake said. The lab is working to determine if some of the samples can be “ruled out” for more common cases of influenza.
Blake says if they can’t determine a sample’s specific virus, it is then sent to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta for further “confirmatory” testing. The lab in Iowa City could begin direct testing for the swine flu virus later this week. “Right now, CDC is doing all that testing,” Blake said.
“With a new strain of flu, they have to develop kits so the individual state laboratories can do that testing within the state. We expect to be able to do that on Friday.” The swine flu is suspected of killing at least 150 people in Mexico. There have been dozens of confirmed cases of the new swine flu strain in the U.S., including a child in Texas that died. The child was visiting from Mexico.
Officials in Iowa and other states are now referring to the virus as the H-1-N-1 (H1N1) flu. They say the flu strain name has hurt pork producers and created confusion.
Governor Chet Culver, Iowa Department of Public Health Director Tom Newton and State Epidemiologist Dr. Patricia Quinlisk are scheduled to provide an update on the virus in Iowa during a news conference scheduled for 3:30 this afternoon.
Radio Iowa will have coverage of the news conference.