Latest information about the flu season

From the outpatient and inpatient sectors, we received reports that influenza infections this season are in parts more serious than in previous years. The number of admittances, especially to intensive care units shows, that early diagnostics and appropriate therapeutic measures on suspicion of flu are advised. At the same time needs to be clarified, how transmission of the virus can be effectively prevented.  Extended information can be found at the Robert-Koch-Institute (www.rki.de).

Test request

Required are the patient details as well as the treating physician including fax/telephone- or mobile number, to ensure quick communication of results. This is especially important on weekends.

The confirmation or exclusion of influenza can be accomplished cost-effective and efficient from a pharyngeal swab within one working day.

Other tests for different pathogens of flu-like infections are also available and can be carried out using the same test material.

Sample material and virus demonstration:

The laboratory demonstration of the influenza virus is by PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) from a nasal/pharyngeal swab (optimal would be nasopharyngeal swab).

Material:

  • Dry swab of the nasal mucosa or pharyngeal mucosa
  • Any type of respiratory tract material (sputum, bronchial alveolar lavage etc.)

A bacterial swab (swab in transport gel) is unsuitable.

Are there restrictions?

Only one sample per patient should be sent. If several swabs are received for one request, these will be merged and a so-called “pool testing” carried out. In few cases, testing of several different sites (pharynx, nasal mucosa etc.) may seem reasonable. In such cases, we would kindly ask for a specific request for an individual test per sample site.

Storage:

As far as sending to the laboratory is not directly possible, the swab should be stored cool at 4 – 10 °C. Freezing of the sample is not possible.

Influenza viruses:

In addition to the demonstration and differentiation of influenza A and B viruses, we also test the presence of subtype H1N1 and will indicate its demonstration individually.

Information can be found at:

When is the result available?

In general, the test is carried out within a few hours; the result however is usually available on the morning of the next day.

On Saturdays, analysis is also possible, as long as the sample material is received in the morning. If tests are required urgently, advance notice would be appreciated. In urgent cases, there is also a possibility to request a test on Sundays via the telephone number of the duty doctor. Here, an individual agreement is required to organize handing over of the sample and communication of the test result.

Reporting obligation

If a positive result is detected, an infection is considered to be confirmed. The result is reportable and we will notify the responsible health department accordingly. As far as necessary and considered to be indicated from an epidemiological point of view, further typing of the virus can be carried out.

Sample material and further information

Sample material, which is free of charge, can be ordered under the telephone number +49 5222 8076-429. Please do not hesitate to contact us at any time if you have further questions about virus detection and its interpretation.