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There are 4 basic tests currently approved by the FDA for the detection of the Covid-19 virus:
Rapid antigen test: detects particles of the Covid-19 virus and is most effective between days 3 and 10 following exposure to the virus. Results are available within 20 minutes.
Rapid PCR test: detects a different particle of the Covid-19 virus and is most sensitive for active disease, typically turning positive within 5 days of exposure and active infection. Like the gold standard PCR test, this test can remain positive for up to 3 months after active infection. Results are available within 20 minutes of sample run. Testing supplies for this type of test are very limited across the country and therefore we follow strict CDC protocol to determine if this test should be completed.
Full standard PCR test: the “gold standard test” and by far the most sensitive and specific. This test also detects a different particle of the Covid-19 virus and is most sensitive for active disease, typically turning positive within 5 days of exposure and active infection. This test can remain positive for up to 3 or more months after active infection. Results are available within 24-48 hours of sample run.
Serum antibody test: this is a blood test which detects antibodies in the blood which develop after recovery from an active infection and are created by the immune system. This test is best used a minimum of 14 days after known or suspected infection. Test results are typically available within 24-48 hours of sample run. Antibody test can also be used to determine if your immune system has properly responded to the Covid-19 vaccine.
The clinical decision about which test should is best utilized depends upon the history of exposure, current symptoms including their time of onset and a physical exam. While we certainly understand that everyone desires to have an immediate or “rapid result”, a rapid test may not be the best choice to obtain the most accurate diagnosis and actually lead to an incorrect diagnosis.
Lakes Urgent Care follows current CDC guidelines and best practice algorithms. We make frequent updates to practice guidelines so we can provide the best care possible. Utilizing this information in conjunction with each specific patient’s history and physical exam, our providers will recommend the best test to be performed for each individual patient. It is important to understand that there is no one size fits all approach when dealing with Covid-19!
This can be a challenging question and there is significant information and clinical decisions to be made, based upon that information to make the best recommendations about testing.
If you previously had a confirmed positive test, the CDC does not support “retesting until negative” and many insurance companies will not cover repeated tests in this circumstance. The reason for this is that you are likely to continue testing positive for up to 3 or more months. What is critical, is whether you have symptoms of Covid-19 or possibly some other source of infection.
If you have never tested positive and are concerned that you have been exposed, it is best to quarantine to protect others (even if you have no symptoms) and wait until day 5 after exposure to be tested, while maintaining the quarantine.
If you have never previously tested positive but are now symptomatic, we can certainly test you, although the results may be conflicting. In this situation maintaining quarantine to protect others is paramount until you have been tested and the result is available. Also keep in mind, that while Covid-19 is by far the most prevalent current community infection, there are literally hundreds of other viral illnesses which could be responsible for your current symptoms. Strep throat, pneumonia, upper respiratory infections and to a lesser extent, influenza, are still prevalent at this time and can be the source of your symptoms or illness.
Patients of all ages can be tested at Lakes Urgent Care, but we ask that you kindly make an appointment in advance so we can minimize any wait time for you in addition to minimizing the number of patients in the urgent care at any given time, which helps eliminate exposure risks for everyone. You can easily make an appointment by going to our website and taking a few short minutes to register and find an available convenient time for you or a family member.
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