Managing influenza with diagnostic resources
Rapid influenza diagnostic tests (RIDTs) can identify the presence of influenza A and B viruses, and display the result in a qualitative way (positive vs. negative), in as little as 10 minutes. RIDTs may also be used to help with diagnostic and treatment decisions for patients in clinical settings, such as whether to prescribe antiviral medications. Additionally, positive RIDT results from one or more ill persons with suspected influenza can support decisions to promptly implement prevention and control measures for influenza outbreaks in institutions (i.e., nursing homes, chronic care facilities, and hospitals), camps, schools, and other settings.

When is use of RIDTs beneficial?
  • Testing during an outbreak of acute respiratory disease can determine if influenza is the cause
  • During the flu season, testing select patients with respiratory illnesses compatible with flu can help;
    • Identify whether influenza is present in a specific patient population
    • Healthcare providers determine how to use their clinical judgment for diagnosing and treating respiratory illness.


Influenza virus testing methods


The importance of laboratory-based surveillance
Laboratory-based surveillance for flu virus is critically important to the selection of viruses for the next season's influenza vaccine. This data is also useful for obtaining information on the emergence and prevalence of antiviral resistant strains, and the identification of human infection with novel influenza A virus (e.g. an influenza A virus of animal origin that may occasionally cause illnesses in people) that may have pandemic potential.