Use of Influenza Rapid Diagnostic Tests
Seasonal and pandemic influenza pose ongoing risks to global human public health. The emergence of the novel influenza A(H1N1) 2009 virus in the human population has led to a global influenza pandemic. Influenza diagnostic tests which aid in case management and outbreak control and permit monitoring of disease spread and viral evolution are critical to patient care and public health efforts. As a result, laboratory testing strategies must be developed and optimized in each country. While sophisticated influenza tests are available in specialized laboratories their capacity may be overwhelmed during a pandemic. Point-of-care tests (POCT) or rapid influenza diagnostic tests (RIDT) are available and can be used in remote settings and in physician’s offices or clinics without laboratory services. They do not require laboratory equipment and can be performed and interpreted by health-care providers within 5-15 minutes. This user’s guide provides general information on RIDTs and possible applications according to the availability of local epidemiology and influenza laboratory services. In particular, it highlights the limitations of these tests. The aim of this document is to ensure appropriate use and interpretation of the results of RIDTs combined with guidance on good quality planning prior to test deployment so that case management and disease control efforts are optimized.