I am working on a new way to detect a respiratory virus by doing a cell count on a nasopharyngeal swab that has been vortexed in a saline solution. A drop of this solution can be placed on a slide and stained with wright stain. I think the number of epithelial cells present on this slide is inversely proportional to the amount of virus present in the specimen and the amount of lymphocytes is directly proportional to the amount of virus present in the specimen. This test would cut the cost of screening for virus during the winter down to almost nothing. If virus is detected a more expensive reflex test could be preformed like influenza IgG, IgM, or IFA so that Tamiflu can be prescribed to the immunocompromised. If no virus is present then there is no need to preform and expensive test. I will be devising an experiment to test this hypothesis for now here is some interesting preliminary discoveries that I have made.
The following images are fields of one nasopharyngeal slide stained with Write stain that was positive for influenza A. Notice that the few epithelial cells that are present in the fields have been destroyed either by the virus or by cytotoxic effects from interferon’s. Also note the many leukocytes present in these fields.
The following images are fields of one nasopharyngeal slide stained with Write stain that was negative for viral infection. Notice that the epithelial cells that are present are large and healthy and note the rarity of leukocytes when compared to the positive specimen.