Health topic


Help stop the spread of influenza

Influenza is a seasonal disease that occurs annually, usually peaking in winter. It affects 5-10% of adults and 20-30% of children each year.1 Seasonal illnesses can result in hospitalisation and death mainly among high-risk groups (the very young, elderly or chronically ill).2 Worldwide, annual epidemics are estimated to result in 3–5 million cases of severe illness, and 290,000–650,000 deaths.2

Influenza is characterised by sudden onset of symptoms including fever, runny nose, cough, headache and fatigue.These symptoms overlap with many upper and lower respiratory infections caused by other bacterial and/or viral pathogens – this makes diagnosis based on symptoms alone challenging for clinicians.4

However, the rapid differentiation of influenza A from other influenza-like illnesses (ILIs) is essential for infection control and patient management.

Current diagnostic methods commonly used are point-of-care rapid antigen tests and lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.5 Reliable negative Influenza A/B results support clinicians to consider other cases of illness like bacterial pathogens that require antibiotics.

Give an early, accurate flu diagnosis

Current immunoassay-based rapid tests for influenza have limited sensitivity and negative test results should be interpreted with caution given the potential for false negative results.5

An unmet need exists for tests that can accurately rule in or out influenza quickly, near patients to inform clinical management.6

Use of POC testing that can reliably detect viral and/or bacterial pathogens would result in enhanced care, less antibiotic empiricism and, at least in theory, reduced patient and societal cost of illness.7

Paediatric studies in particular have shown decreased use of antibiotics and increased use of antivirals when influenza is diagnosed by rapid testing.8-10

Related assays

Related systems

cobas® Liat® System

The cobas® Liat® System is a fast, easy-to-use, compact PCR system designed for on-demand testing in point-of-care* settings such as physician clinics, pharmacy, and hospital and satellite laboratories.

cobas Liat System


  1. WHO (2012). World Health Organization. Vaccines against influenza. WHO position paper. Weekly Epidemiol Record. 87(47):461–76.
  2. WHO (2018). Influenza (seasonal) factsheet. Available at last access 11 Oct 2018
  3. Mayo Clinic (2016), Symptoms and causes. Available at last access 11 Oct 2018
  4. Call, S.A., Vollenweider, M.A., Hornung, C.A., Simel, D.L., McKinney, W.P. (2005). Does this patient have influenza? JAMA 293(8), 987-997.
  5. CDC (2016). Guidance for Clinicians on the Use of Rapid influenza diagnostic tests. Available at last accessed 04 May 2017
  6. Caliendo, A., et al. (2013). Better tests, better care: improved diagnostics for infectious diseases. Clin Infect Dis 57(3), S139-170.
  7. Bhavnani, D., Phatinawin, L., Chantra, S., Olsen, S.J., Simmerman, J.M. (2007). The influence of rapid influenza diagnostic testing. J Infect Dis 11, 355-359.
  8. Bonner, A.B., Monroe, K.W., Talley, L.I., Klasner, A.E., Kimberlin, D.W. (2003). Impact of the rapid diagnosis of influenza on physician decision-making and patient management in the pediatric emergency department: results of a randomized, prospective, controlled trial.  Pediatrics 112(2), 363-367.
  9. Esposito, S., Marchisio, P., Morelli, P., Crovari, P., Principi, N. (2003). Effect of a rapid influenza diagnosis. Arch Dis Child 88, 525-526.
  10. Jennings, L.C., et al. (2009). Effect of rapid influenza testing on the clinical management of paediatric influenza. Influenza Other Respir Viruses 3, 91-98.
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