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N.Y. Lab Increases Staffing To Test Swine Flu Samples

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New York City’s public health laboratory is increasing its staffing to help assist testing hundreds of swine flu samples, reports NY Daily News.

The lab took over testing for the CDC on May 8th and has since received more than 350 samples to test for the the H1N1 virus.

To date, there have been 6552 reported cases of swine flu and 9 deaths in 48 states. Of those, there have been 273 cases confirmed in N.Y., including 192 in New York City.

While the World Health Organization (WHO) reports there have been 11,168 reported cases of the H1N1 virus in 42 countries, including 86 deaths.

"We are trying to do the testing in real time, as quick a turnaround as possible," said Dr. Sara Beatrice, assistant commissioner of the Health Department’s Bureau of Public Health Laboratory. She said the average number of lab workers testing for viruses has jumped 500% since the outbreak erupted, to about 15 from a normal of 3.

Private physicians and hospitals are unable to determine whether a patient has swine flu.

Patients with suspected of having the H1N1 virus, have their deep nasal cavity swabbed to collect saliva and mucus. Lab staffers then extract genetic material from the sample and run three tests to detect the virus, Beatrice said.

To avoid catching the Swine Flu, the CDC recommends:

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing

Wash your hands regularly

If you feel ill, do not go into work or school and consult your doctor.

For updated H1N1 virus information, be sure to visit the FDA Web site regularly.#