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Rapid Flu Tests May Prove Especially Helpful This Season

de reliable lab-based detection based on viral culture, serology, rapid antigen testing, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and immunofluorescence testing. All are time-consuming, however, in a year when time is especially important.

Fortunately, three medical firms produce quick-results kits that have been CLIA-waived by the CDC for point-of-care use. With all of these products, higher sensitivity and specificity results are achieved with nasopharyngeal wash specimens than with NP swabs. The test kits include:

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.

Quidel Corporation, San Diego, Calif., produces the QuickVue Influenza A+B test designed to detect the presence of the influenza A and B virus in a patient nasal wash or nasal swab sample within 10 minutes. Quidels technology utilizes the principle of antibody specificity for the influenza virus nucleoprotein (NP) to selectively interact with the influenza A and B viruses. The NP is evolutionarily conserved and not subject to the same year-to-year changes that make it necessary to be vaccinated each year to prevent influenza infection. For this reason the QuickVue test is not adversely affected by the appearance of different influenza strains.

ZymeTx Inc., Oklahoma City, Okla. Manufactures the ZstatFlu Rapid Test for Influenza A and B, the first point-of-care testing platform for the rapid diagnosis of Influenza A and B. and has proven specificity in diagnosing current strains of Influenza A and B in addition to all of the strains on record for the past 30 years.

The test uses a throat-swab specimen and requires about two minutes of tech time and 20 minutes processing time. It has a three-year shelf life and can be stored at room temperature.

Three other companies manufacture rapid result tests that are als
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