Rapid diagnosis of influenza infection in older adults: Influence on clinical care in a routine clinical setting

Sarah J. D'Heilly, Edward N. Janoff, Paul Nichol, Kristin L. Nichol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background: Laboratory diagnosis of influenza has previously relied on viral isolation in culture. Rapid antigen tests (RATs) are now available but few studies have examined their use in older adults under routine clinical conditions. Objectives: To determine the utility of the RAT in older adults presenting to a large medical center and how test results impacted clinical care. Study design: Retrospective chart review of patients tested for influenza during the 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 influenza seasons. Clinical data were correlated with the results of laboratory testing. Results: Eighty-four adults tested positive for influenza. Adding the results of the RAT to symptom complexes predictive of influenza significantly enhanced the ability to diagnose influenza in the acute setting. The positive predictive value of fever plus cough increased from 32% to 92% with a positive RAT. The RAT also directed appropriate antiviral therapy. 20/22 (91%) patients with a positive RAT and symptoms ≤48 h received antiviral treatment compared to only 1/12 (8%) patients with a negative RAT and a positive culture. Conclusions: Under routine clinical conditions rapid influenza testing enhances the ability to quickly diagnose influenza and can be used to guide early treatment decisions in older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-128
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Virology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Microbiology Service for technical support. This work supported by the Veterans Research Service and NIH grants DE015072 and AI77069. The authors S.D., E.J., P.N. have no conflict of interest. Dr. Nichol has received funding from manufacturers of influenza vaccine.


  • Diagnosis
  • Influenza
  • Influenza treatment
  • Microbiology
  • Upper respiratory infection


Dive into the research topics of 'Rapid diagnosis of influenza infection in older adults: Influence on clinical care in a routine clinical setting'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this