Canadian researchers have examined the accuracy of rapid influenza diagnostic tests (RIDTs) in a meta-analysis of 159 studies. The results, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, revealed that although RIDTs can confirm the flu, they do not rule it out and that RIDTs are also better at identifying the influenza A virus, which is more common, than the influenza B virus. The results also showed that the accuracy of the tests is higher in children than in adults. To provide the best patient care possible, and to control infection, it is crucial to diagnose influenza as quickly as possible. The gold standard tests for identifying influenza have been viral culture and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction tests (RT-PCR). However, these tests can be expensive, with results taking from between one to 10 days.
Experts say that the 2012 flu season is just starting, and although it is later than usual, they expect that about 5 million people will contract a severe form of flu that will claim 500, 000 lives. Those most vulnerable are young children and older adults. The important of fast diagnosis and treatment of flu is underlined in two research reports being published early online in Annals of Internal Medicine. Receiving a correct diagnosis is vital to infection control and patient management for individuals who display flu-like symptoms, such as: Fever Aches Chills Sore throat Cough Tiredness Viral cultures are accurate in diagnosing the flu, however, it can take up to 10 days to receive results from the lab. Newer tests called reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) are significantly faster than viral cultures, although they require specialized equipment and are considerably costly, and rapid influenza diagnostic tests (RIDTs) are cheap and easy to use, although not much is known about their accuracy.
According to results of a randomized controlled trial published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), the effects of influenza immunization on babies born to vaccinated mothers shows a considerable positive effect on birth weight. The study, part of the Mother'sGift project examining the safety and effectiveness of pneumococcal and influenza vaccines in pregnant women in Bangladesh, enrolled 340 healthy pregnant women in Bangladesh, in their third trimester. The researchers randomly assigned 170 participants to receive influenza vaccine, and the remaining 170 to receive pneumococcal vaccine as control. The team compared the weight of babies born during a circulation of an influenza virus, and again when there was limited circulation. Babies that are small for gestational age are at heightened risk of health problems and other issues during their life.
Vaccinating pregnant women against the influenza virus appears to have a significant positive effect on birth weight in babies, according to a study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). The study, a randomized controlled trial involving 340 healthy pregnant women in Bangladesh in the third trimester, looked at the effect of immunization with the influenza vaccine on babies born to vaccinated mothers. It was part of the Mother'sGift project looking at the safety and efficacy of pneumococcal and influenza vaccines in pregnant women in Bangladesh. The participants were divided into two groups, one with 170 women who received the influenza vaccine, and the second who received the pneumococcal vaccine as a control. Researchers compared the weight of babies born in two periods, one in which there was circulation of an influenza virus and one with limited circulation.
Scientists from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have discovered evidence of a new influenza type A virus in Guatemalan fruit bats. While they don't believe the virus poses a threat to humans in its current form, they say more research should be done, because bats could act as a gene-swapping reservoir where the virus acquires genetic material that could make it a threat to human health in the future. They write about their findings in the 27 February online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The lead author of the study is Dr. Suxiang Tong, who leads the team running the Pathogen Discovery Program in the Division of Viral Diseases at the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia. Tong told the press this is the first time that a flu virus has been identified in bats, but "in its current form the virus is not a human health issue".