Rapid flu testing kits in short supply in Columbus but medicine is still available

Urgent cares across Columbus are running low on or are out of rapid flu testing kits. (WSYX/WTTE)

You may want to know instantly whether you have been bitten by the flu bug. But urgent cares across Columbus are running low on or are out of rapid flu testing kits.

Infectious Disease expert, Dr. Joe Gustaldo at Ohio Health said that in the United States there are a limited number of manufacturers that do flu testing. The Food and Drug Administration banned two top brands at the height of the season so medical suppliers are facing a shortage of the tests which can detect the flu within ten minutes through a nasal swab.

“If somebody presents to me with a high suspicion for flu based on their symptoms, it is completely appropriate, and yes I would prescribe Tamiflu to those patients without doing testing,” said Gustaldo. ” Our influenza testing has gone down by about 35 percent even though flu cases are still very high in the community.”

It’s the worst flu season since 2009 and medical technologists at Riverside Methodist Hospital are busy processing tests for their Central Ohio hospitals to make sure the most severe cases are diagnosed.

Ohio Health said they are staying in contact with their suppliers and have no shortage of Tamiflu, a medicine that if given soon enough can greatly reduce symptoms and the duration of the flu.

“We are in good shape, but it is a day to day week to week basis on the testing flu supplies,” said Gustaldo.

Experts remind people it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine. The season lasts through late Spring.

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