For the past three years, anytime someone sneezed or coughed, we assumed it was COVID-19. And rightly so; we were and still are in a global pandemic, with COVID hospitalizations rising in the Northeast.
We have been so consumed with COVID that we have yet to prepare ourselves for the emergence and resurgence of other harmful viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites that have been silently and steadily co-circulating.
The World Health Organization (WHO), in response to the rising threat of fungal disease, has recently released a list of priority fungal pathogens — all microscopic fungi, invisible to the naked eye, some of which have the potential to kill.
The irony of the WHO’s global effort to prioritize fungal pathogens and, after struggling with COVID symptoms yet testing negative, testing positive for a bacterial and fungal infection, is not lost on me.
I predicted that superbugs and co-infections would be a consequence of COVID-19.
Studies show that COVID can cause long-term immune cell dysfunction — the inability of white blood cells to respond effectively to pathogenic infections — likely one of the causes of Long COVID. Studies also suggest that both asymptomatic and severe COVID individuals experience immune cell dysfunction, creating a significant level of susceptibility to any illness.
This raises the questions, did my SARS-CoV-2 infection (March 2022) create an immunodeficiency? Do I have Long COVID?
I am a healthy forty-two-year-old. I work out six times a week. I maintain a balanced diet. I have an ideal body mass index (BMI). My metabolic panels always come back in the normal ranges. There was no reason to assume that I was immunocompromised. Most may have ignored my symptoms, chalking them up as a “just a cold”, letting it run its course without further testing.
Unsatisfied and unsettled by my negative COVID test results, I ran my own diagnostic panel. I customized this comprehensive panel to test for specific viruses, bacteria, and fungi. The panel identified two harmful pathogens, haemophilus influenza (bacteria) and pneumocystis jirovecii (fungus) were present. With this data, I consulted with my doctor to determine the best and most accurate treatment plan.
My experience with testing negative for COVID, yet testing positive for a bacterial and fungal infection, underscores the importance of ordering a broad respiratory pathogen panel (RUO) for early detection and an accurate analysis and treatment. I suspect that without knowing I had a specific infection, my health would have suffered quietly, indefinitely.
Using the standard panel tests that doctors currently run will not be enough. Hospitals and clinics need more sophisticated and robust diagnostic tools to properly manage and mitigate the surge of new and existing pathogens in circulation. An inaccurate analysis can lead to adverse health conditions. In addition, treating an infection with the wrong type of antimicrobial could change the pathogen so much that antimicrobials stop working against them, thus adding to the global antimicrobial resistance crisis.
Flow Health's Respiratory Pathogen Panel (RUO) outcompetes any commercial panel on the market. The panel can identify and detect more than 52 of the most common respiratory viruses, bacteria, and fungi commonly associated with respiratory illness in less than 3 hours, allowing doctors to make informed patient care decisions faster. This syndromic solution can improve patient health outcomes and reduce hospital admissions.
*This product is for Research Use Only (RUO).