Another study showing the ineffectiveness of rapid tests for Swine Flu has the Centers for Disease Control advising doctors and patients not to bother with the tests at all, the Reuters news service reported.
A study by researchers at Connecticut’s Greenwich Hospital and Greenwich Dept. of Health found that Thermo Fisher Scientific‘s Remel Xpect Flu A&B rapid test missed 53 percent of cases later confirmed by genetic tests.
That study mirrors earlier findings that showed rapid tests made by the likes of Thermo Fisher, Inverness Medical Innovations, Becton, Dickinson and Quidel missed as many as 90 percent of H1N1 influenza cases.
The rapid tests use antibodies to detect a protein from the virus. But they only indicate the presence of influenza (in some cases distinguishing between type A and type B strains) and don’t detect the specific A/H1N1 Swine Flu strain. And if the patient’s sample doesn’t contain enough of the protein, the tests can return a false negative result.
That’s why CDC’s advice is to skip the rapid tests and treat the flu immediately, no matter what strain a patient might come down with.
“The flu is the flu is the flu,” Dept. of Health & Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, according to the wire service.
The more accurate genetic tests use real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reactions, but require a lab and at least 48 hours to produce a result.
In July, the Food & Drug Administration gave emergency approval to an RT-PCR test made by Quest Diagnostics, dealing a blow to Osmetech, which had asked the FDA for emergency dispensation back in May.