Evolution of Technology

Viral Testing

Influenza is primarily diagnosed clinically. Based on the presentation of symptoms, clinicians make a diagnosis and provide the appropriate treatment recommendation. If diagnosed within 48 hours of the onset symptoms, treatment may consist of anti-influenza medication along with rest, hydration, and pain relief. The limitation of a clinical diagnosis is that the symptoms of influenza can present very similarly to other common infectious agents including Myocplasma pneumonia, adenovirus, and the virus responsible for the 2020 pandemic – COVID-19. In light of the significant consequences of a missed diagnosis of COVID-19, it may prove worthwhile to delineate the actual viral pathogen.

Tests available to diagnose influenza include a viral culture that takes 3-10 days, polymerase chain reaction that takes 1-8 hours, immunofluorescence assays that take 1-4 hours, rapid molecular assays that take 15-30 minutes, and rapid influenza antigen detection tests that take less than 15 minutes. In an outpatient setting where time is of the essence as it relates to appointment time and initiating treatment to reduce the length of illness, it is prudent to be able to quickly test and quickly receive results.