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Diagnostic flu test more accurate when used on children

Category: Infectious Diseases

A recent study has found that a rapid influenza test is more effective at diagnosing the virus in children rather than adults. The findings are applicable for the seasonal flu and the H1N1 virus that has been rampant over the last two years.

Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston examined the medical records of 2,600 patients taken to the hospital with suspected influenza between May and September of 2009.

After comparing the results of a rapid influenza test with two laboratory tests that require days for diagnosis, the research team found that rapid test was 45 percent sensitive and 98.6 percent specific. This means that the test was "highly accurate" in diagnosing H1N1 infection, but that a negative result did not rule out the possibility of an infection, according to Health Day News.

"It's known that these are not perfect tests," said Nathan Litman, a professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein School of Medicine, quoted by the news source. "The thing about them is that they can rapidly identify about half of patients with influenza early on in the emergency room. But if this test is negative, there is still a chance they have influenza."

However, the researchers found that the sensitivity rate of test was significantly higher when used on children under the age of two.

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