Even though sunburns and poison ivy rashes are on your summer-lovin’ mama mind right now, federal health agencies are already thinking about the future. Recent reports say that a division of U.S. Health and Human Services has invested in companies developing at-home flu tests. While there are still a few months until flu season gets into full-swing, these tests could one day make diagnosing the dreaded virus as easy as taking a home pregnancy test.

So why would the government want to invest in at-home flu testing? Well to start with, it makes their job a heck of a lot easier. With at-home tests (that could potentially connect to some sort of self-reporting app), the Centers for Disease Control and other federal and state health agencies could get a real-time picture of where major flu outbreaks are happening.

And before you start thinking that the government is going all Big Brother on us, being able to track the flu in real-time helps the medical professionals to more efficiently step up prevention and vaccination efforts. Hey, even though the flu season typically doesn’t start until the fall, the flu vaccine is usually available early on in the school year—and there’s really no reason to wait.

The current investment includes $14 million to Cue Health, a company that hopes to add an at-home flu test to their existing health monitoring platform. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority is also investing $10 million in the development of an at-home pregnancy-like test with company Diassess.

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While the tests are still very much in development, if they do hit the market it means you won’t have to waste time schlepping your sick self (or sick kiddos) to the doctor’s office. That also means no spreading your germs around, no sneezing your way to a 45 minute wait to see the doc and an almost-instant answer to the “Is it the flu or is it a cold?” question—and getting you and your family on your way to getting better that much faster.

—Erica Loop

Featured Photo: Jelleke Vanooteghem via Unsplash 

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