FLU NEWS SCAN: Rapid tests and flu variants, flu tools for business

Sep 18, 2012

Rapid tests may miss variant flu viruses
Rapid flu tests often used in clinical settings have limited ability to detect variant influenza A viruses that are circulating in pigs and infecting humans, mainly at fairs and other swine-related events, researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported today. They compared the ability of seven rapid influenza diagnostic tests (RIDTs) to detect seasonal influenza viruses with their accuracy in identifying variant H3N2, H1N2, and H1N1 viruses. Their findings appear today in an early online edition of Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses. They conducted the tests with tenfold serial dilutions of cell-culture–grown flu viruses. All seven tests detected a seasonal H3N2 virus, though detection limits varied among assays, and all but one identified the 2009 H1N1 virus. However, the tests weren't as accurate at detecting the variant viruses, with only four of seven detecting all three. Researchers said the reduced sensitivity of the RIDTS to the variants may relate to amino acid differences between the nucleocapsid proteins in seasonal and swine-origin viruses. They urged healthcare providers to be aware of the rapid tests' limitations and to forward specimens from patients with suspected variant H3N2 infections to public health labs for further testing.
Sep 18 Influenza Other Respi Viruses abstract

CDC updates info for workplace prevention of seasonal flu
The CDC yesterday updated its information for businesses to use to help prevent seasonal influenza, including a new toolkit. The agency said the purpose of "Make It Your Business to Fight the Flu: A Toolkit for Businesses and Employers" is to help businesses promote uptake of the 2012-13 seasonal flu vaccine and other flu-prevention measures. The toolkit includes a checklist, flyers, and other information. The CDC's Web site for seasonal flu prevention in the workplace also includes links to a podcast, information on the flu vaccine, and other materials.
CDC flu page for businesses

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