Which virus-specific lab studies are used for the diagnosis of influenza pneumonia?

Updated: Mar 24, 2021
  • Author: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP; Chief Editor: John J Oppenheimer, MD  more...
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Influenza can be isolated from nasal/throat swabs, nasal washes, and sputa on viral culture (in a variety of kidney cell lines). Throat swabs have the lowest yield. Ninety percent of positive cultures can be detected within three days of inoculation, and the remainder can be detected by day seven.

Many rapid tests exist for influenza virus types A and B, but sensitivities are 40-80% when compared with viral culture. However, the specificity is high (85-100%). Per above, novel S-OIV can be detected by rapid tests, but the sensitivity is low (51-63%), and for avian influenza, this test is not useful. RT-PCR of sputa is the most useful diagnostic test for the latter 2 influenza strains.

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