When swine flu first started to attract attention in the United States and around the world, Miami-Dade county made a decision to enforce a very strict swine flu testing policy. When a person exhibited any symptoms of a flu virus or met a single piece of general criteria (such as recently returning from a trip to Mexico), Miami-Dade county mandated that they be tested for the swine flu virus. However, on Friday, health officials in Miami-Dade county announced that they were making a change in this policy.
Instead of testing this wide variety of individuals, the county will instead only test patients admitted to a hospital with swine flu symptoms, or individuals that fall into a group of interest. According to officials, groups of interest include nursing home residents, health care workers, children or college students (given that one of the likeliest places for a swine flu outbreak to take place is a college compass, due to the close living and daily proximity that students have to each other).
When asked why Miami-Dade county had made the decision to change their swine flu testing policy, Dr. Fermin Leguen (who is the chief epidemiologist of the Florida Department of Health) gave this response:
“Our labs have already tested 1,000 samples from all age groups; this is enough information for the Florida Department of Health to characterize the epidemic in Miami.”
Currently, there have been two confirmed cases of the swine flu virus in Miami-Dade county, as well as three more probable cases, which is why it is still important for Miami-Dade county residents to continue practicing good hygiene such as washing their hands on a regular basis.