PeaceHealth Labs Helping Track Flu

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SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — Influenza–including this season’s most common strain, H1N1–can be difficult for doctors to diagnose, but a Peacehealth lab is making it easier for physicians in Lane County.

Peacehealth Laboratories in Springfield does most of the flu tests within Lane County, but it serves a wider area.

“We’re able to not only provide high-quality, accurate testing, but we’re also able to provide benefits such as surveillance testing, which is useful for the community,” said Dr. Robert Liao.

Especially during times like flu season, the molecular testing done at Peacehealth Labs provides more accurate results.

“Sometimes the other tests that are available are rapid, maybe more point of care, but they’re not always reliable and frequently you can’t rely on a negative during flu season, but when you really need to have the answer they’ll ask for molecular testing,” said Liao.

Molecular testing is much more sensitive, testing for the RNA, or building blocks, of a specific virus, and that’s where the community can really benefit.

“Early on in a season, we don’t really know when flu has arrived. We don’t really know what’s circulating. We don’t know if what’s circulating is in the vaccine and therefore if people who are vaccinated are protected,” said Dr. Patrick Luedtke with Lane County Public Health. “It’s important to know early on when it hits your community so you can prepare for it, and it’s also important to know what’s circulating mid-season and late-season to find out how the season is gonna go, and what we’ll put in our next vaccine next season.”

Lane County Public Health says flu numbers are still going up in the area.

That’s what the lab data shows as well.

Around this time last year, 27 cases tested positive. This year there are 119.

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