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Swine-Flu Tests Spread to 50 States, Helping U.S. Track VirusBy Elizabeth Lopatto
May 5 (Bloomberg) --
EXTRACT: Laboratories in all 50 states in the U.S. will be able to test for swine flu, beginning today, as health officials work to speed the pace at which authorities can identify community outbreaks and offer aid.
Before this week, only the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab in Atlanta could definitively identify cases of swine flu, formally called H1N1. As of yesterday, 78 laboratories in 44 states received diagnostic kits, said Rachel Powell, a CDC spokeswoman.
While state labs have the equipment required to screen for swine flu, they need access to chemicals that can identify proteins specific to H1N1, said Joseph Bresee, the CDCís chief influenza epidemiologist. Fast results can help authorities stop community outbreaks early, said Donald Kaye, of Drexel University College of Medicine.....
Previously, hospitals would collect swabs from suspected patients and sent them to the CDCís reference laboratory in Atlanta, where thousands of samples are still awaiting analysis, according to the agency.....A method called real time polymerase chain reaction or RT- PCR, allows scientists to determine what kind of virus the patient has within two to three hours. Laboratories with this system are receiving test kits from the CDC to look for the markers of swine flu.