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Fast, Accurate Influenza A/B Antigen Detection


According to CDC data, influenza infections in this country cause more than 114,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths annually. Among healthy adults, bronchitis and pneumonia are the most common complications. Together, influenza and pneumonia are the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Influenza is particularly dangerous in elderly and immunocompromised people; however, infections involving fulminant influenza strains are serious illnesses in any patient. Prompt diagnosis of influenza supports improved treatment outcomes, now supported by the availability of rapid testing for point of care use.

Early diagnosis of influenza can reduce the use of inappropriate antibiotics and support the option of antiviral therapy. However, the accuracy of clinical diagnosis of influenza on the basis of symptoms alone is limited because symptoms from illness caused by other pathogens can overlap considerably with influenza.

Quick test kits from three manufacturers are currently CLIA-waived, providing an important diagnostic resource for point of care use. All of these kits are characterized by the College of American Pathologists as moderately complex.

Binax, Inc., Portland, Maine, produces the NOW Flu A Test (Influenza A) and NOW Flu B Test (Influenza B), both of which, according to the company, are the most widely used products of their type in the market.

The NOW Flu A test is an in vitro rapid immunochromatographic assay for the qualitative detection of Influenza A nucleoprotein antigen in nasal wash and nasopharyngeal swab specimens from symptomatic patients.

Using a nasal wash sample, sensitivity is rated at 82 percent and specificity at 94 percent. Using an NP swab sample, sensitivity is 78 percent and specificity is 92 percent

For the NOW Flu B test using a nasal wash sample, sensitivity is rated at 71 percent and specificity at 97 percent. Using an NP swab sample, sensitivity is 58 percent and specificit
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