Tennessee Valley sees flu test shortage as sickness continues to spread

Asher Lyle's mother says both he and his brother tested positive for the flu last week. (Image courtesy family)

So many people have the flu, or at least are suffering from its symptoms, that doctors say they're running out of flu tests.

Without an official flu test, people in and around Chattanooga are having a hard time knowing how to treat their misery.

Asher Lyle's mother says both he and his brother tested positive for the flu last week.

Jessica Lyle says pharmacies were all out of Tamiflu in Athens, TN, but she at least knew what to expect for the days to follow.

But even with red eyes and a sleepy attitude, in some ways, Asher is lucky.

He likely got one of the last flu tests available in McMinn County.

Dr. Kim Breeden has seen lots of little boys and girls like Asher here at Covenant Pediatrics.

"The kids just look miserable," Dr. Breeden said.

But, until she got a shipment of tests Thursday, Breeden hasn't been able to tell them for sure, if they're infected with the flu.

"Not only has it been us, but every doctor's office in the area," she said. "Parents want to know, 'Is this the flu?' That tells them what to expect for their child, what to expect for their other children."

Dr. Breeden says she diagnosed the flu for about 15 years without a flu test. She still can today, but in cases where parents really need or want to know, lately they've had to go to the hospital.

"That adds extra time for the patient, it adds extra expense, because hospitals charge more for flu tests than I do," she said.

Lyle says when you have a sick kid, you already feel helpless. Now, she hurts even more for parents.

"I couldn't imagine not knowing for sure, there's so many things going around right now," Lyle said. "I feel bad for them not knowing how to treat their kids or what to treat them for."

Breeden says her office got 50 tests in the mail today, but will likely have to order one more round this flu season.

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