Objectives: To describe the strengths and limitations of the available influenza diagnostics, with a focus on rapid antigen detection assays and nucleic acid detection assays. Methods: A case-based presentation is used to illustrate the potential limitations of rapid antigen detection assays for influenza. Results: Influenza is a seasonal illness; estimates attribute influenza to approximately 200,000 hospitalizations and 41,000 deaths in the United States annually. Antigen detection assays for influenza are rapid and convenient, and thus are widely used in a variety of health care settings, even though the sensitivity of these assays may be suboptimal. The United States Food and Drug Administration has recently created new guidelines intended to improve the oversight and performance characteristics of influenza antigen detection assays. Molecular assays, although more costly and complex, are more sensitive and may be designed to simultaneously detect multiple respiratory pathogens within a single assay. Conclusions: Diagnostic assays for influenza can vary greatly with regards to analytical performance characteristics, complexity, turnaround time and cost. This can have important patient care and infection prevention implications.
- Nucleic acid amplification tests
- Rapid influenza diagnostic test
- Respiratory virus