Medical scientist Jack Su with the 4-Plex analyser which helps hospital emergency departments quickly identify if a patient is suffering from COVID or particular flu strains (Photo: Darling Downs Health)

June 20, 2022

Hi-tech equipment at Kingaroy Hospital is allowing staff members to quickly identify exactly which virus a patient has: Influenza A, Influenza B, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) or COVID-19.

The 4-Plex testing can provide results within an hour.

A Darling Downs Health spokesperson said the rapid increase of Influenza A and B cases was making it more difficult for doctors to distinguish between them and other viruses in the community, such as RSV and COVID-19.

Dr Liam Flynn said while these viruses shared similar symptoms they had different impacts on patients and different treatment options.

“We know there are different viruses active in the community at the moment, and this test helps to identify some of the more common culprits,” Dr Flynn said.

“While they share similar symptoms, there are some differences in treatment options which can be important when people are quite unwell.

“Not only is it important to identify what virus a person has but it’s also critical that we protect other patients and staff within our hospital settings.

“We don’t want to have scenarios where people who are COVID-19 positive are admitted in the same spaces as those with influenza and vice versa. Battling one of these viruses is enough on its own and we want to minimise exposure to a different virus.”

Pathology Queensland Toowoomba Group laboratory manager Neil Dawson said the ability to perform a 4-Plex swab and quickly identify the virus could often result in a better outcome.

“Our testing capability for these four viruses can allow the treating team to provide appropriate care and medication in a very timely manner,” he said.

4-Plex testing is currently available at Kingaroy, Toowoomba, Dalby and Warwick hospitals and will primarily be used in Emergency departments.

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