When To Send Specimen
Send a specimen to the MDH Public Health Laboratory in the following circumstances:
- Hospitalized surveillance â specimens submitted from persons who are hospitalized with influenza-like illness* or clinical suspicion of influenza or deceased following ILI* or clinical suspicion of influenza.
- It is important to send a specimen on any hospitalized patient with ILI* or clinical suspicion of influenza even if rapid influenza testing is negative or if testing was not performed.
- If your laboratory is performing onsite influenza testing by PCR, positive influenza A specimens that are subtyped as H1N1pdm or H3 do not need to be routinely submitted.
- Positive influenza A specimens that are unsubtyped, subtyped as “seasonal H1,” or “indeterminate” do need to be submitted to MDH-PHL for further characterization as they could be variant influenza strains.
- All positive influenza B specimens should be submitted to MDH-PHL.
- Specimens that are negative by PCR for influenza A and B do not need to be submitted to MDH-PHL.
- Sentinel surveillance â these facilities are pre-determined.
- Laboratory surveillance – isolates from virology laboratories only.
Benefits And Downsides Of At
To decide if at-home flu testing is a good fit for your needs, its important to consider its potential positives and negatives.
The main possible benefits of at-home flu testing include:
- Convenience: An at-home test can be ordered online and performed at home at your convenience without needing to make an appointment or go to a medical office.
- Testing in isolation: If you are worried about being contagious with the flu, at-home testing allows you to get tested while avoiding contact with other people.
- Option to test for flu and COVID-19: Some at-home test kits are able to test for both the flu and COVID-19 with one test sample.
- Transparent pricing: Most at-home influenza testing involves a single, all-inclusive price that is clearly shown before making your payment.
Some of the main possible downsides of at-home flu testing include:
If you have questions about whether to have at-home influenza testing, you can talk with your doctor about how to evaluate its pros and cons in your specific case.
The Accuracy Of Flu Tests Varies Depending On The Type Of Test
RIDTs may be quick, but theyre not as accurate as other tests. Theyre able to detect flu viruses between 50% and 70% of the time. If paired with a special reader device, they become slightly more accurate .
Rapid molecular assays are much more accurate than RIDTs. Theyre typically between 90% and 95% accurate.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , immunofluorescence tests have moderate accuracy, but an exact percentage isnt provided. All we can say from this information is that this flu test is less accurate than rapid molecular assays and RT-PCR tests.
No matter which flu test you take, if you get a positive test result, there is a good chance that you are infected with the virus identified by the test. However, it does not rule out the possibility of a coinfection, which means that you may also be infected with another virus or bacteria not included in the test.
If you get a negative result, it means that the genetic material of the viruses being tested were not found in your sample. But as we discussed, it is possible to get a false negative result especially if you have symptoms, exposure risk, or other factors that suggest that you are infected. Your provider may use all of this information in determining the best course of action.
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What Is An At
Think of an at-home COVID-19 test as a D.I.Y. COVID-19 test: You read the instructions you collect the sample you get the results — and you respond accordingly.
Some at-home tests call for you to ship your sample to a lab for analysis. The ones here are somewhat in the spirit of a home collection test. A home collection test involves a company or service delivering a test to your house, collecting or helping collect the sample, and then taking the sample to the lab.
How Do I Know If I Need To Get A Flu Test
If you experience any of the following flu symptoms, it might be a good idea to get a flu test:
Fever or feeling like you have a fever
A runny or stuffy nose
Vomiting or diarrhea more common in kids than adults
Its important to know that everyones flu symptoms are different. You may have some or all of these. But typically, flu symptoms come on quickly .
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What This Means For You
If you have any flu-like symptoms, get tested for COVID-19 immediately. If your test comes back negative, call your doctor to check if you should go in for a flu test. Healthcare providers may be able to prescribe antiviral medication for the flu.
The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.
Should I Take A Home Test
The home tests that give instant results are all antigen. However, there are home kits that require mailing a sample to a lab that use molecular technology. Whereas testing at pharmacies and doctor’s offices is typically free or covered by insurance, your insurance company may not cover the cost of a home test, which may cost anywhere from $24 for a set of two to $38 for one.
For COVID-19, home tests can be useful if you need an immediate answer, Dr. Campbell says. “But the tricky part is that the cost can pile up and people don’t always do the test correctly, either,” he says. “I would think it’s better to have the test done by someone whose job it is to do it, especially if there are free testing locations available.”
Dr. Martinello agrees. “I think it’s a good assumption that home tests are not as accurate as NAAT tests you can get at a drive-through or walk-in testing site, but they do improve access to testing,” he says.
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How Does The Flu Test Work
Your healthcare provider will rub a cotton swab along the back of your throat or up your nose. The swab will be sealed in a packet, then tested by the healthcare provider right there in the clinic.
Rapid flu tests are now available that can provide a test result in 15 minutes or less. Some tests may be used to identify the type and/or the strain of influenza causing infections.
Is There A Test For The Flu
Yes, there are several flu tests available. Theyre usually administered by a healthcare provider. The most common and fastest type of flu test is called a rapid influenza diagnostic test , which detects antigens specific to the virus. Youll typically get results in about 10 to 15 minutes, but they arent as accurate as other flu tests.
The reason RIDTs are less accurate is because they test for flu virus antigen. Antigens are pieces of a germ left behind after our immune cells start to kill some of the germs. Antigen tests arent as sensitive to flu viruses as the other tests listed above. They have a higher chance of giving you a false negative result. That means that the test says you dont have the flu when you really do.
Other types of flu tests include:
A flu swab test is one of the most common methods of taking a sample for your flu test. Typically, a special swab that might look similar to a long cotton swab is used to take a sample from your nose or throat. This type of flu test can be a little uncomfortable for some people. But rest assured, its a temporary feeling thatll quickly go away after the sample is collected.
Flu tests are usually done by a healthcare provider, but there are some at-home options, too. More on that below.
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Rapid Influenza Diagnostic Tests
Rapid influenza diagnostic tests are antigen detection assays that can detect influenza viral antigens in 10-15 minutes with moderate sensitivity and high specificity. Some tests are CLIA-waived and approved for use in any outpatient setting, whereas others must be used in a moderately complex clinical laboratory. Some RIDTs utilize an analyzer reader device to standardize results to improve sensitivity . FDA now requires RIDTs to achieve 80% sensitivity. Detection of influenza virus antigen does not necessarily indicate detection of viable infectious virus or on-going influenza viral replication.
Expert Tips For Getting A Flu Test
Here are a few things to note when seeking care for your flu symptoms:
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When Should You Get Tested For The Flu
Angela Underwood’s extensive local, state, and federal healthcare and environmental news coverage includes 911 first-responder compensation policy to the Ciba-Geigy water contamination case in Toms River, NJ. Her additional health-related coverage includes death and dying, skin care, and autism spectrum disorder.
Verywell Health / Brianna Gilmartin
Why Do You Need It
When your doctor finds the flu virus, they can give you antiviral drugs early on. This is when they work best. If you get diagnosed early — within 48 hours after symptoms show up — these drugs can ease your symptoms and shorten the illness by a day or so. After the first 2 days, though, these meds wont do much for you.
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What Are The Different Types Of Covid
Diagnostic tests that determine if someone has an active COVID-19 infection fall into two categories: antigen tests, which are mostly used for rapid testing, and molecular and PCR tests.
Antigen tests: Until now, the majority of rapid diagnostic tests have been antigen tests. They use a nasal or throat swab and detect a protein that is part of the coronavirus. These tests are particularly useful for identifying a person who is at or near peak infection.
Antigen tests are less expensive and generally faster, but also can be less accurate. Depending on the quality of the antigen test and the test takers, false negatives could be as high as 20%.
Molecular/PCR tests: Not all molecular tests utilize the polymerase chain reaction , but PCR serves as the mainstay of COVID-19 diagnostic testing. PCR has also become a common shorthand in many media reports. Molecular tests detect genetic material the RNA of the coronavirus and are sensitive enough to need only a very tiny amount of it.
Until now, the best PCR tests generally required trained personnel, specific reagents and expensive machines. The sample is collected with a nasal or throat swab and they tend to take hours to provide results.
Good PCR tests like the ones used over the past eight months at UC Davis Healths lab are close to 100% accurate. The new PCR-based Liat has the same high accuracy rate.
These can detect if someone had a past COVID-19 infection but not if they still are positive for the virus.
The Real Reason For Withdrawing The Eua Request
The first Facebook post we referenced quoted from and linked to a that informed labs that as of Dec. 31 the agency would withdraw its emergency use authorization request for the CDC 2019 or, for short, the CDC 2019-nCoV RT-PCR.
It is standard practice for the Food and Drug Administration to issue temporary emergency use authorizations for tests and other medical products that have not yet undergone the FDAs full approval process but need to be used in an emergency to diagnose, treat or prevent serious diseases.
The FDA issued the EUA for the CDCs 2019-nCoV RT-PCR in . At that time, no other tests were available in the U.S. to determine whether someone had COVID.
But its important to remember that what the CDC developed and submitted for its EUA request was not a tangible product but rather a protocol for how to test for COVID, said Susan Whittier, a professor of pathology and cell biology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. That means the CDC wrote out directions specifying which reagents were needed to test the laboratory samples for the presence of the COVID virus. The CDC does not distribute COVID tests.
Its not like they have a test that laboratories can purchase. We borrow their protocol and use the reagents that they say, said Whittier, who recently retired as director of the clinical microbiology lab at Columbia. So withdrawing the EUA request just means that protocol will no longer be available.
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Lucira Check It Covid
Lucira’s at-home molecular test is more sensitive than a rapid antigen test, per the brand. It falls somewhere in between a rapid and PCR test based on the way it works â it detects genetic material from the virus similar to a PCR test, but in a fast, 30-minute time frame and without the need to send it to a lab. Unlike other nasal swab tests, the sample reader is a small device â instead of a flat pamphlet â that lights up to let you know whether your test is positive or negative. It’s approved for ages 2 and up.
Buy It! Lucira Check It COVID-19 PCR Test Kit, $75 with coupon
Can You Be Tested For Covid
Currently, the FDA has authorized several tests that have the ability to detect multiple viruses at the same time. Instead of taking separate tests for each virus, this option allows you to take just one test to help identify what is potentially causing your infection. Some of these tests can look for flu viruses, COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus , and several other respiratory infections. Others only test for flu viruses and COVID-19.
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Emerging Data Raise Questions About Antigen Tests And Nasal Swabs
A new study adds to evidence that common rapid tests may fail to detect some Omicron cases in the first days of infection.
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By Emily Anthes and Christina Jewett
A small, new real-world study suggests that two widely used at-home antigen tests, the Abbott BinaxNOW and Quidel QuickVue, may fail to detect some Omicron infections even when people are carrying high levels of the coronavirus.
The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, focused on 30 people infected with the virus at five workplaces that experienced what were most likely outbreaks of the Omicron variant in December. The people received both saliva-based P.C.R. tests and rapid antigen tests using nasal swabs.
It took three days, on average, for people to test positive on a rapid antigen test after their first positive P.C.R. result. In four cases, people transmitted the virus to others while the rapid test showed the negative result, according to the study, which was conducted by several members of the Covid-19 Sports and Society Working Group.
It is not clear whether the infections were missed because the antigen tests are inherently less sensitive to Omicron or because saliva tests may be better at detecting the new variant.
Its not a ticket that allows you to go back to normal or to drop any other measures, Dr. Eckerle said.
How To Swab For The Flu
Following the low rates of influenza during the 2020 flu season, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that the 2021 season will be unpredictable and potentially severe.
The COVID-19 pandemic has added another layer of complexity to the flu season ahead. COVID and the flu share a number of similar symptoms, which will make diagnostic testing particularly important this flu season. Clinicians can expect higher rates of testing to drive clinical decisions around whether to initiate antiviral treatment, perform other diagnostic testing, or implement infection prevention and control measures for influenza.
Getting a fast, accurate diagnosis will be critical in driving care decisions, but speed and accuracy will vary based upon the type of test performed and testing materials used.
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