Anonymous asks:

What is the process for definitively diagnosing swine flu?

In Topics: H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu)
> 60 days ago



Sep 18, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Most physicians use what is known as the rapid influenza diagnostic test at he point of care, in other words, in their office or clinic.  They can detect influenza A or B but can not distinguish the subtype  (i.e., the H and N designation).  Therefore this test can not distinguish between seasonal influenza and the novel H1N1 influenza A virus (aka swine flu).  The other problem with this test is that it is not particularly sensitive, which means it can give what is known as false negative results (i.e., a negative result even though the person might actually be infected).  The definitive test to identify swine flu is a molecular test called the real time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) which, at this time is available at state health department laboratories and the CDC.  The commerical laboratories have also developed tests to identify swine flu.

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Additional Answers (1)

bob , Parent writes:
The CDC does publish guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of H1N1 influenza, link below.  You can also do a general web search on "h1n1 diagnosis" and you'll get a lot of good hits.

In my personal experience, some doctors are prescribing Tamiflu without the complete test.  I can't second guess these doctors - apparently the full test is somewhat involved and expensive.

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