Tuesday, September 26, 2023

How To Test For Flu

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Cost Of A Flu Test Without Insurance At Different Clinics

Testing for influenza


Another instance where you may need to get a flu test is an outbreak of respiratory illness in your community. Many people may need to get tested to determine if the flu is the cause. In outbreaks, tests may also be used to determine the strain of the flu virus that is causing infections. This information helps to manufacture vaccines in the following years.

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What If You Test Positive Using An At

Those who test positive using an at-home test are asked to follow the latest CDC guidelines and communicate the results to their healthcare provider, who is responsible for reporting test results to the state health department.

Health experts say people should assume the test results are accurate and should isolate from others to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Clinical Resources For Flu Swab Tests

The CDC should be your first reference when it comes to tracking instances of influenza in your community and state. When it comes to how best to test for influenza, Puritan Medical Products can help. Below are resources to guide healthcare practitioners and testing clinics in selecting the most effective tools and techniques for flu testing and diagnosis.

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Why Is This Important

The findings suggest that routine use of rapid tests for flu improves detection of the illness compared with standard clinical care. Flu testing is not routine in most hospitals. Clinicians may order a PCR test when they suspect flu, but this misses patients who do not show the classic symptoms of the illness.

When the rapid test is routinely used to detect flu, patients are likely to receive appropriate medication faster. They can also be swiftly isolated from others, which reduces the spread to other patients and staff in the hospital. People with flu who were diagnosed with the rapid tests were less likely to become seriously unwell.

The researchers say that more hospitals should replace laboratory-based PCR tests for flu with routine point-of-care rapid testing. The study took place during the winter months. This means the findings are relevant to flu seasons, and not necessarily to other times of the year.

Are There Different Types Of Flu Tests

China Flu a/B Influenza a B Antigen Testing Kit

In a lab setting, there are a few different ways to test for influenza. The most common test for flu is called a rapid influenza diagnostic test . These RIDTs detect the part of the virus that stimulates an immune response, known as an antigen, the CDC says. Another type of flu test, called a rapid molecular assay, detects the actual genetic material of the flu virus. Both of these tests are termed rapid because they can provide results in 10 to 15 minutes or 15 to 20 minutes .

Even more accurate than RIDTs and rapid molecular assays are the tests most often found in hospitals or public health laboratories . Those tests are known as reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction tests, viral cultures, or immunofluorescence assays, the CDC says. These results also take a little longerup to several hours.

But as far as youre concerned, all of those tests require the same thing from you: a nasal swab, where a provider swipes the inside of your nose or a throat swab, Cassandra Pierre, MD, MPH, an infectious disease physician at Boston Medical Center, told Health. Even more specifically, some tests go further back in the nose, while the rapid test only goes right inside, Anjali Mahoney, MD, MPH, a family medicine specialist with Keck Medicine of USC, told Health.

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How Long Should You Quarantine Or Isolate

First things first, those who believe they have been in contact with someone who has COVID and are unvaccinated should quarantine. Those who test positive, regardless of vaccination status, must isolate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Massachusetts General Hospitals Dr. Ali Raja said he talks to his patients all the time about the difference between isolation and quarantine.

Quarantine sounds a lot scarier, he said. Its actually when you have been exposed and either arent fully vaccinated or youre not vaccinated at all. You stay home even if you dont have the virus. Isolation is when youve actually tested positive regardless of whether you had symptoms.

For either one you stay away from people, stay home for five days, and ideally test negative before coming out of it, he added.

Heres more on the differences between the two:


Those who have been within six feet of someone with COVID for a cumulative total of at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period should quarantine for five days if unvaccinated, or if they are more than six months out from their second vaccine dose, according to updated CDC guidance issued Monday.

Once that period ends, they should partake in strict mask use for an additional five days.

Previously, the CDC said people who were not fully vaccinated and who came in close contact with an infected person should stay home for at least 10 days.


How The Combination Test Kit Works

The Pixel by Labcorp kit allows people to test for the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. It involves using a short nasal swab thats inserted into the lower nostril. Once the sample is taken, its placed into a prepaid envelope and shipped to a Labcorp faciltiy.

Test results are available between one to two days after the company receives the collection kit and, in most instances, theyre available a day after the kit is received. Results can be viewed through the patients Pixel by Labcorp account and, if it was ordered by a doctor, they will be available through the patient portal and Labcorp Patient app.

Labcorp says the test kit will be available at no upfront cost to people who meet the clinical guidelines, which can include:

  • Experiencing symptoms
  • Being exposed to someone with COVID-19
  • Being asked to be tested by a healthcare provider

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The Top 3 Methods For Diagnosing The Flu

Are you testing for rapid frontline diagnosis or public health reporting? Your prioritiesspeedy big-picture diagnosis or accurate insight into viral strainswill determine which method for diagnosing the flu might be right for your needs. In this resource, we break down your options and guide you to the most effective testing solutions for your objectives.

How Do They Decide What Strains Are In The Vaccine Each Year

How a Rapid Flu Test Is Performed: Sofia Influenza A & B

Each year, the flu vaccine, containing inactivated virus, is targeted to protect against the expected strains, based on the observations and experience of healthcare practitioners and scientists. Healthcare providers and researchers carefully track the influenza virus circulating worldwide and try to anticipate the strain that will eventually appear locally the next season.

As influenza travels through communities around the world, it undergoes spontaneous changes that allow it to evade the protective antibodies formed from previous infections and vaccinations. The amount of “antigenic drift” varies from year to year. Bigger antigenic drifts, known as “antigenic shifts,” result in more severe illnesses since more people will be susceptible to the virus.

Sometimes the flu strain will have significant antigenic drift during the season so that the virus will appear slightly different to the body’s immune system, decreasing the effectiveness of the vaccine’s protection. Or, the flu that predominates may end up being an unexpected strain, not the ones that the vaccine was developed to protect against.

Usually, in these cases, the vaccination will at least lessen the severity of the infection. In individual high-risk patients , healthcare practitioners may bolster the protection by prescribing antiviral treatments before the person gets sick to provide short-term protection while influenza moves through the community.

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What To Expect This Flu Season

Indicators are pointing to a severe 2022-2023 flu season, making now the time to prepare your office for a swell in influenza test procedures.

Social distancing, mask wearing, and other steps taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have helped lower the transmission of influenza in recent years. However, with the lifting of mask requirements and greater availability of COVID vaccines has come the potential for an increase in influenza transmission. Australia, often used as a predictor for the U.S. flu season, has seen its flu case count pass pre-COVID numbers, leading to its worst flu season in five years. Experts note that the Australia flu season began eight weeks earlier than typical in many regions, a strong indicator of a severe flu season.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommends individuals get vaccinated by the end of October, while emphasizing that vaccination after October still provides protection during the flu season peak typical of the winter months.

As you stock up on influenza test swabs and viral transport media kits, we recommend brushing up on critical resources to help guide your preparation in the months ahead. To that end, weve compiled a summary of helpful flu-related guidance below.

Stay Home Except To Get Medical Care

  • Avoid all public areas.
  • If possible, take steps to improve ventilation at home.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, going to the bathroom, and before eating or preparing food. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw used tissues in a lined trash can. Wash your hands right after.
  • Your local health department can assist you with making sure that your basic needs are being met while you are isolating.
  • Once you recover, make sure you are up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines, including getting vaccinated and boosted when you are eligible.

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What Do The Results Mean

A positive test result means you may have the flu. It’s possible to have a false positive, which means your test says you have the flu, but you really don’t. Depending on your health, your provider may prescribe medicine to help prevent the flu from becoming a more serious illness.

A negative result means you may not have the flu. A different virus or bacteria may be causing your symptoms. But the flu can’t be ruled out. That’s because a false negative is possible. That means your test says you don’t have the flu, but you really do.

Rapid tests tend to have more false negatives than tests that are sent to a lab. False negatives may also happen if your test was done after the amount of flu virus in your body began to decrease. If you have a high risk for getting seriously sick from the flu, your provider may prescribe antiviral medicine even though your test result was negative. You may also need other tests to help make a diagnosis.

Some tests look for the flu and other viruses. If you had a test for more than one virus, the results will be listed separately for each type of virus.

If you have questions about your results, talk with your health care provider.

Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.

How To Swab For The Flu


They usually have a long swab stick with a soft swab tip at the end, made of cotton material, polyester, polyester or rayon tip, nylon flocked swabs. is sterile, so the test only analyzes the microbes in the sampled area. During the flu swab procedure, doctors usually insert the end of the swab into the patients nose and spin the flu swab to collect as much mucus as possible.A doctor can take a sample by inserting a swab into the top of the throat through the nose. If the virus grows heavily in the area, the flu can cause dizziness.Doctors have several different ways to test a cotton swab for the flu virus. The test that takes a few days to a week to complete is a viral culture, in which viral particles are grown in human cells.Rapid tests include tests that analyze the sample for the presence of genetic material or antigens from the flu virus. An antigen is a special molecule in a virus. Some commercial tests contain antibodies, and the presence of antigens can be recognized by their linkage to the antigens.These tests are less than an hour, but may not be as accurate as viral cultures. A runny nose and sore throat can be symptoms of the flu.

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Questions For Your Doctor After At

If youve recently taken an at-home flu test, the following questions may be useful to discuss with your doctor:

  • How do you interpret my test result?
  • Do you think the at-home test that I took was accurate?
  • Should I have any follow-up testing?
  • Are any treatments or other measures appropriate given my symptoms and test result?

Using Antiviral Medicines To Prevent The Flu

Two antiviral medicines can help prevent the flu caused by influenza A and B viruses. These medicines may also reduce the length of the illness if they are given as soon as possible after the first symptoms. During a flu outbreak, these medicines may be given at the same time as a flu vaccine and for 2 weeks after while your body produces antibodies to protect you from the virus.footnote 5 The influenza medicines are usually given to people who are very sick with the flu or to those who are likely to have complications from the flu. But they may also be used for a person who has been sick with the flu for less than 48 hours. These medicines are taken by mouth or inhaled into the lungs .

The antiviral medicines amantadine and rimantadine have been used to prevent flu caused by influenza A. But for the past few years the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised doctors not to use these medicines to treat or prevent the flu. These medicines have not worked against most types of the flu virus. Amantadine and rimantadine do not protect against influenza B. Be sure to talk with your doctor about the medicine that is best for you.

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Influenza Virus Testing Methods

Table 1: Influenza Virus Testing Methods

Rapid Influenza Diagnostic Tests4 A and B NP5 swab, aspirate or wash, nasal swab, aspirate or wash, throat swab < 15 min.
Rapid Molecular Assay A and B
Immunofluorescence, Direct or Indirect Florescent Antibody Staining A and B NP4 swab or wash, bronchial wash, nasal or endotracheal aspirate 1-4 hours No
RT-PCR7 and other molecular assays A and B NP5 swab, throat swab, NP5 or bronchial wash, nasal or endotracheal aspirate, sputum Varies No
Rapid cell culture A and B NP5 swab, throat swab, NP5 or bronchial wash, nasal or endotracheal aspirate, sputum 1-3 days
Viral tissue cell culture A and B NP5 swab, throat swab, NP5 or bronchial wash, nasal or endotracheal aspirate, sputum 3-10 days No
  • Serologic testing is not recommended for routine patient diagnosis and cannot inform clinical management. A single acute serum specimen for seasonal influenza serology is uninterpretable and should not be collected. Serological testing for detection of antibodies to seasonal influenza viruses is useful for research studies and requires collection of appropriately timed acute and convalescent serum specimens and testing of paired sera at specialized research or public health laboratories.
  • Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988.
  • NP = nasopharyngeal
  • Rapid molecular assays can provide results in approximately 15-30 minutes.
  • VTM = Viral transport media
  • What Is Influenza

    New Rapid Flu Test Offers 99-Plus Percent Accurate Results

    Influenza, also known as the flu, is a respiratory disease caused by infection with the influenza type A, B, C or D virus. Influenza viruses are spread among people primarily through airborne droplets released when you talk, cough, or sneeze.

    The flu is a common disease that is believed to affect around 8% of people in any given year. Flu viruses tend to spread more frequently during colder months and can lead to local seasonal epidemics. Much less often, new strains of flu spread rapidly across the world and cause a pandemic.

    The flu can cause a wide range of symptoms including:

    • Head and/or body aches

    For most people, flu symptoms are mild and short-lived. In others, though, the flu can cause life-threatening complications. Children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with certain coexisting medical problems are at a higher risk of serious complications from an influenza virus infection.

    There are multiple types of influenza viruses that can cause the flu. Influenza A and influenza B are the only types of influenza that can cause seasonal flu epidemics. An epidemic is a disease outbreak that occurs within a specific geographic area.

    Influenza C is far less common and generally only causes mild symptoms while influenza D viruses primarily affect cattle.

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    How Is It Treated

    Most people can treat flu symptoms at home. Home treatment includes resting, drinking plenty of fluids, and taking medicine to lower your fever. But some people need to go to the hospital for treatment. They may have severe symptoms or get pneumonia. Or the flu infection may make an existing health problem worse.

    If you think you have the flu, your doctor may be able to give you medicine that can make the symptoms milder. It’s best to start taking it within 2 days of your first symptoms.

    Will We Have Enough Tests

    The most accurate tests for COVID-19 and the flu are both PCR tests that require some of the same reagents, or chemicals to process the tests, raising concerns that surges in both infections this winter could strain testing capacity.

    I think weve done a much better job of sorting out the supply chain thats necessary to support a broader amount of testing, said Fahimi. So Im hopeful that were not going to run out of tests.

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