There are 2 phases to testing:
- The first is a rapid screening test (EIA)
- The second is a more laborious PCR test
Patients who meet criteria for treatment (see treatment guidelines) should be treated regardless of test results. Thus, treatment of appropriate high risk patients is more important than testing.
Rapid screening (EIA) Testing should be conducted in:
- Hospitalized patients with suspected influenza
- Pregnant women with suspected influenza
- Screening (EIA) Testing might also be considered for other high risk groups at the discretion of the clinician (see algorithm figure)
PCR Testing may be performed on specimens from high risk patients (such as hospitalized and pregnant patients) that are NEGATIVE by Rapid EIA test but where the clinician has a high index of suspicion for Influenza. PCR testing should only be requested by the clinician if results will affect treatment decisions. Requests for PCR must be “added on” to the original sample (it will not happen automatically for negative rapid EIA).
Please see Technical Bulletins for the Rapid Test (EIA) and the PCR test for details regarding obtaining and sending specimens for EIA and PCR testing.