What is the efficacy of PCR in the diagnosis of influenza?

Updated: Aug 07, 2020
  • Author: Hien H Nguyen, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Most laboratories and hospitals now offer nucleic acid (PCR)-based studies. A nasal swab is submitted in special transport media to the laboratory, and results can be available within 24 hours. Sensitivity for influenza is greater than 90%. These tests may be offered as respiratory panels that provide information on the presence of other viruses, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and adenovirus.

The FDA has approved an influenza RT-PCR test developed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that can provide results within 4 hours. It is the only in vitro diagnostic test for influenza that is cleared by the FDA for use with lower respiratory tract specimens. [12] Consisting of 3 modules, the kit can do the following:

  • Identify and distinguish between influenza A and B viruses

  • Classify influenza A viruses by subtype

  • Detect highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N1) virus infection in human respiratory tract specimens

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