A new, fully automated system is much quicker, and more accurate in diagnosing influenza A and B, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) A and B than conventional alternatives, according to a paper in the November Journal of Clinical Microbiology.
"Instead of relying on insensitive but rapid influenza tests for diagnosis in the clinic, or waiting 24 hours or more for molecular results to come back, we can now provide molecular level sensitivity in less than 3 hours," said principal investigator Nathan A. Ledeboer of the Medical College of Wisconsin, and Dynacare Laboratories, Milwaukee.
"This will mean hospitalized patients with influenza and RSV infections will be isolated faster, which will decrease the risk of transmission to other patients in the hospital," Ledeboer said. The faster turnaround also means "fewer patients will be placed on empiric therapy, which will decrease costs and decrease the risk of an adverse event caused by medication." In the study, the assay, a microarray, was tested on 720 patient samples collected throughout the US.
The new technology, called Respiratory Virus Nucleic Acid Test SP" (RVNATsp), is 98 percent sensitive and 96 percent specific. By comparison, the conventional alternative, culture, is nearly 100 percent specific, but only 70 percent sensitive, according to the press release.