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Laboratory Medicine Updates - January 15, 2007

University of Virginia Health System

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January 15, 2007

Influenza A/B Screen

Beginning January 15, 2007, the Clinical Microbiology and Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory will perform reverse-transcriptase real-time PCR for the detection and differentiation of Influenza A and B from nasopharyngeal washes, aspirates and swabs.  The Influenza A/B PCR test performed with equivalent sensitivity and specificity when compared to culture.  It therefore will replace the viral culture component of the Influenza A/B Screen.  The test will be performed once daily, with results usually reported the day following collection.   Testing of other respiratory specimen types for influenza (sputum, bronchoalveolar lavage, etc.) will require clinicians to order a full respiratory viral culture.

Among the advantages of this test is a significant decrease in time to finalized results and subsequent enhanced management of patients on Contact/Droplet precautions due to suspected influenza infection.  All reports will contain the following comment: "When ruling out influenza, place adults on Droplet precautions and children on Contact/Droplet precautions until resolution of symptoms or until lab results are negative (flu culture is negative on day 5 or flu PCR is negative)".