Influenza is a seasonal disease that occurs annually, usually peaking in winter. It affects 5-10% of adults and 20-30% of children each year1 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 characterized by sudden onset of symptoms including fever, runny nose, cough, headache and fatigue.3 These symptoms overlap with many upper and lower respiratory infections caused by other bacterial and/or viral pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2 – this makes diagnosis based on symptoms alone challenging for clinicians.4
However, the accurate differentiation of influenza A/B 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.