Orleans Community Health has new machine to diagnose flu, strep

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 10 March 2020 at 10:35 am

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Health care professionals at Orleans Community Health’s Walk-In Clinic in Albion demonstrate the new machine which can detect strep throat and flu in minutes. From left is Stephanie Wilson, clinic supervisor, and Connie Woroszylo, nurse practitioner. The Clinic is seeing an increased number of people with flu in recent weeks.

ALBION – Flu and strep are on the rise in Orleans County, according to health care professionals at Orleans Community Health’s Walk-In Clinic in Albion.

Nicole Helsdon, practice manager, said they are seeing as many as five people a day with the flu, but with acquisition of a new Cobas Liat machine, they are able to detect the virus in minutes.

Connie Woroszylo, nurse practitioner, and clinic supervisor Stephanie Wilson explained the process.

If strep is suspected, the nurse swabs the patient’s throat and then thrusts the swab into a vial, which is inserted into the Cobas Liat machine. A similar procedure is done to diagnose flu, except the patient is asked to blow his nose and then the nasal cavity is swabbed. With either illness, lab confirmed results are ready in 20 minutes.

“If we had to send the sample out for a culture, it would take days,” Woroszylo said. “This machine will detect both type A and B flu.”

Patients being seen at the clinic have mostly flu, with a few strep cases, Helsdon said.

We are at the peak of the flu season, Wilson said, and she stressed everyone should have a flu shot.

“It’s still not too late to get one,” she said. “The flu season runs through the end of May.”

She said the older population – over 60 – need a higher dose than would be available at a doctor’s office, and they can get it at their pharmacy.

The flu vaccine is recommended for ages beginning at six months, Wilson said. The vaccine usually lasts the entire year and the new vaccine typically comes out in August.

When people come in with flu symptoms, Helsdon said they are asked to put on a mask. As a precaution, she said her office is being very diligent in wiping down the surfaces often where people touch. She said when someone is diagnosed with the flu, they may be prescribed Tamiflu, which is a prescription which lessens symptoms, but doesn’t cure the flu.

“Otherwise they may be told to practice the traditional cures of rest, drink lots of fluids and stay home,” Helsdon said.

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