(WEHT) – Just who should be tested for the coronavirus? The CDC has once again revised its guidelines about testing. Eyewitness News Brandon Bartlett talked with our medical expert Dr. David Schultz with Evansville Primary Care about those new guidelines and what they mean for you.
BRANDON: Dr. Schultz, thanks for joining us tonight the CDC has reversed its guidelines about testing before it said those who have been exposed as someone with a virus but aren’t showing any symptoms do not need to be tested. But now is saying those individuals need to be tested. Why do you think the CDC made that change?
Dr. Schultz: Well, Brandon, we’re seeing a lot of people out there in the tri state that, frankly, are asymptomatic. And when you have individuals that are asymptomatic, they can catch the infection and spread it to others without knowing they actually have it. And so what this reversal is trying to do is to catch those individuals who have the virus because they’ve been exposed to another individual before they can spread it to others.
BRANDON: So does this now mean that anyone who has been around someone with the virus needs to be tested?
Dr. Schultz: So what they are recommending is if you’ve had an exposure, which is defined as 15 minutes spent with a person who is positive at at the long, largest distance six feet, then at that point, that individual should be tested to see if they have COVID.
BRANDON: Okay. Well, the CDC also yesterday said that guidance posted on its website over the weekend about airborne transmission was actually posted in error. The guidance said that the virus could be transmitted by tiny particles in the air by pulling that off of its website, does that mean that the virus does not travel to the air? Or is that something we just don’t know for sure yet?
Dr. Schultz: Well brandon, with this virus, it’s still uncertain To what extent does it travel through airborne mechanism? We’re not sure. And we’re learning more about this. We’re learning it’s probably not as airborne as once initially thought. Back in the spring, we were really concerned about that. But now we’re finding it’s probably not as airborne as once thought. But the possibilities of there being some type of airborne travel with this virus still remains.
BRANDON: Well, as you know, the flu season is quickly approaching. If someone were to get infected with one of the viruses, how would we know if it’s the flu or the corona virus?
Dr. Schultz: Brandon, there are some subtle differences with the coronavirus and influenza A or B. But frankly, they’re very similar because flu will give you symptoms of cough, congestion, runny nose, fever, body aches and fatigue. And as we all know, in the tri state, those are also very similar symptoms as COVID-19. Now some differences, flu will typically give a more rapid presentation of itself. In other words, the fever will come sooner the symptoms will come much sooner. Typically, you do not lose your sense of smell with the flu. That’s one difference. You typically will lose your sense of smell and taste with the coronavirus. And then how long an individual has an infection is a little bit different. So with flu symptoms may only last four to six days with Coronavirus. They can last much longer. But again, the difficulty lies in those with mild symptoms, whether it’s Coronavirus, or flu, mild symptoms are frankly identical.
Brandon: And the flu is something that you as a doctor can check for right there in your office.
Dr. Schultz: As we do. And our office has about 500 rapid test here where we can actually run a test and within a matter of four minutes, get a flu result. And so we’re encouraging our colleagues in the area to carry the flu test because those are simple. They’re readily available, and we can get some rapid results with flu. So if you’re positive of flu, it’s not likely that you’re also positive with Coronavirus. So it’s a very important test.
Brandon: well, let’s talk about the flu shot. What do we know about the flu shot for this year?
Dr. Schultz: Brandon is still pretty early. We haven’t seen a lot of flu cases around the world yet. That’s that remains to be seen. We know we try to make a flu vaccine with the most common strands of flu, and there’s usually four that they incorporate into the flu vaccine. We will have more information about whether the flu vaccine is effective or not starting at around early December, and usually in the Tri-state area. We experienced flu cases in early to mid-January up through Valentine’s Day.
Brandon: And do you recommend the flu shot for your patients?
Dr. Schultz: We strongly recommend the flu vaccine and that would be for all patients all ages. The only contraindication would be an extreme flu allergy and, and persons with Guillain-Barré syndrome or have had a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome. But apart from that, we strongly recommend a flu vaccine. And you recommend getting that after we’re beginning October 1, is that right? We do. The traditional Medicare guidelines has always been October 1. And usually, Medicare recommends flu vaccines between October 1 and May 1. And so we would encourage you to get your flu vaccine. A lot of the retail pharmacies already have it available. And most of the clinics will have it by October 1.
(This story was originally published on Sept. 22, 2020)