Date: 27 Mar 2010

Performance of rapid influenza testing in hospitalized children

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Abstract

Influenza infection is associated with high hospitalization rates among young children. Rapid diagnosis of influenza infection is particularly useful in order to prevent nosocomial infection and allows for the timely initiation of antiviral treatment. We evaluated the performance of a rapid influenza test in hospitalized children during the influenza season. All children (aged 6 months to 14 years) hospitalized with fever and/or respiratory symptoms, admitted during the 2005 influenza season, participated in the study. A multiplex reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), able to identify IFV-A H1N1, H3N2, and IFV-B subtypes, was performed on nasopharyngeal aspirates. The nasal swab was tested with a lateral-flow immunoassay (QuickVue Influenza Test). The performance of the rapid test was compared with the results of PCR. Influenza infection was diagnosed by PCR in 41/217 (19%) patients. Infection with influenza A virus (H3N2) was diagnosed in all cases. The performance of the QuickVue Influenza Test was estimated as follows: sensitivity 67.5%, specificity 96%, positive predictive value 79%, and negative predictive value 93%. The sensitivity of the test was higher in infants aged 6–12 months, in those with short duration of symptoms, and in the peak phase of the epidemic. The QuickVue Influenza Test is useful and reasonably accurate to detect influenza infection in hospitalized children during the influenza season. Infection with influenza virus is unlikely if the test is negative. A positive result suggests that infection is probable if influenza virus circulates in the community.