Thankful for Tamiflu and Z-packs: How the Flu Test Works

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This fall numerous people have acquire the flu in Amarillo, to the point where they have run short on Tamiflu® at times. For those suffering from non-viral infection there is the z-pack. I’m particularly grateful for the latter. But for why, I have to tell you a little story.

About a week ago, I headed in to the clinic to get a flu test. The PA allowed me to see the test being done. This was quite a treat, I love seeing how things like this work and talking the theory over with the doctor. It makes me a huge nerd, but nerds have more fun.

Turns out the flu test is almost exactly like a litmus test. A litmus test is a piece of paper that turns color in the presence of an acid or base, but colloquially the term has come to mean a clear and easy test. A pregnancy test with it’s two strips or a plus is a good example. What they’ve done is create a slightly thicker than average piece of paper which a solvent with the sample (nose swab) dissolved will travel up. As the dissolved sample material travels it encounters several pretreated areas of this paper.

If proteins present specifically in the flu virus react with the pretreated areas, parts of the strip change color.

It’s pretty ingenious, takes only 10 minutes or so, and you get different lines for the different variations of the flu virus. And just in case it isn’t working you have a “control” line that will change colors if you’ve done the test correctly.

It’s pretty incredible what you can do with a pretreated strip of paper.

My results were negative, no flu for me despite the aches and pains and congestion. ‘Congestion’ is a word that needs one or two more ‘n’s in it, something like ‘congensntionnn’. So, it was a z-pack not tamiflu for me. I feel better but still not 100%.

My wife did have the flu and the tamiflu worked unbelievably well. It nocked out whatever she had in the course of two pills, and while she still felt exhausted it was merely a shadow compared to her first two days.

I’m pretty thankful for Tamiflu and Z-packs both.


About Sean Smith

Husband, Father, Pastor, Swimmer, Writer, Reader, and attempted Adventurer!
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