Help patients enjoy their summer by diagnosing their symptoms faster.
By Colleen Travers
Many doctors stress the importance of preventing the spread of germs as the school year begins and particularly during the winter months as people are more likely to be indoors more, making it easier for viruses and bacteria to circulate and spread from one person to the next. But while it may be
more difficult to catch a cold or the flu in the summer, certain bacteria that can cause illness often peaks in the summer, meaning that all the practices physicians preach to patients (like handwashing and covering their mouths when sneezing and coughing) are just as important in the warmer seasons, too. And although people may be outdoors more they’ll still be in larger groups, such as summer camps,concerts, and backyard BBQs. This can make respiratory illnesses easy to spread, including bacteria like Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae), which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can be found in 20 percent to 60 percent of school-aged children. While most children have vaccinations protecting them from severe illness associated with S. pneumoniae, coming into contact with a carrier in summer camp or a recreational sports league makes it possible to pass on to an older adult or grandparent, who may be at an increased risk of pneumococcal disease. Other bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus (Staph aureus), which can be found on the skin, hair, or in the noses and throats of many people and animals can also cause illness during the summer months. This can range from skin infections (think of how easily bacteria can spread in aheavily populated pool or beach locker room) to more serious conditions like a lung infection, particularly in those who have a suppressed immune system. Coming into contact with Staph aureus can even cause infection on any medical devices already in the body, such as someone with a catheter or artificial valve. With molecular genetic testing, doctors can perform a simple swab test to help diagnose a patient’s respiratory-related symptoms faster. The panel can help detect specific bacterial targets like S. pneumoniae, Staph aureus, among others as well as viral targets like influenza strains, rhinovirus, enterovirus, and more. This discovery of a specific bacteria, viral, or fungal strain can help a physician determine the best course for treatment as well as provide tips on anything that may help alleviate or shorten the patient’s symptoms as the disease runs its course if medication or antibiotics
are not an option. By having this knowledge, not only can it help shorten the window a patient experiences symptoms, it can also prevent spreading to the disease to others by recommending the patient steer clear of public places and summer hangouts that attract large crowds.
For more information on how to use molecular testing in diagnosing and treating respiratory illness as part of your practice based on medical necessity visit ASAP Lab for a list of all its testing services.