Single test could help prevent spreading viruses over Thanksgiving

Before you head out to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, you may want to get tested to make sure you're not spreading germs with your holiday cheer.
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 10:12 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - ‘Tis the season of spreading gratitude, but it’s also the season of illnesses. Doctors in Wichita are seeing both RSV and flu cases hit earlier than typical seasons. Some pediatricians say they’ve seen flu cases rising in the last couple of weeks.

If you’re planning on doing a lot of visiting for the holidays, there is a way to test and see if you have one of the three common illnesses right now. It’s known as the RIC, and it can determine if you have RSV, influenza or coronavirus.

You can find the at the WSU Molecular Diagnostics Lab near MacArthur and Oliver. Director Sarah Nickel said January 2022 was the lab’s busiest month, but she says now, testing is starting to pick up. So far this year, the MDL has analyzed more than 107,000 tests. Of those, 44,000 are RIC tests that can deliver multiple results in a single test.

“Unfortunately, the RIC test is still the gold standard sample type is the nasopharyngeal swab. It’s the one that goes way back into the nasal pharynx. And by knowing which one you have, it’s a very different treatment process,” said Nickel.

Doctors are seeing all three in Wichita patients ahead of Thanksgiving.

“If you have those common cold symptoms, the odds are high that it’s going to be one of the common cold viruses. If you are sick, or you’re going to somebody’s house, consider whether that’s the right choice. Is this the right moment especially again if somebody is vulnerable or very young,” said Dr. Philip Newlin, a pediatrician with Ascension Medical Group.

Due to federal CARES Act dollars, those at the WSU MDL remind people that tests there are free until the end of the year.

“If you’ve been around someone who’s been sick, if your children have been sick, and you’re going to go see someone that you love dearly in a nursing home, it just might be a good idea to make sure that you’re safe,” said Nickel.

The WSU MDL is also conducting a paired study for the RIC test to determine if saliva samples are just as accurate as a nasal sample.

If you would like to participate in the study, you must give both a nasal and saliva sample.

To get tested, you must book an appointment online through the WSU MDL website or by calling 316-978-8600.