How is influenza diagnosed?

Updated: Aug 07, 2020
  • Author: Hien H Nguyen, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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When influenza viruses are circulating in the community, clinicians can often diagnose influenza on the basis of clinical criteria alone (see Presentation). Rapid diagnostic tests for influenza that can provide results within 30 minutes and can help confirm the diagnosis.

It should be kept in mind, however, that these rapid tests have limited sensitivities and predictive values; false-negative results are common, especially when influenza activity is high, and false-positive results can also occur, especially when influenza activity is low. [12] Nevertheless, influenza virus testing may be considered if the results will change the clinical care of the patient (especially if the patient is hospitalized or has a high-risk condition) or influence the care of other patients. [12]

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