Background: Demand for the rapid diagnosis of influenza infections has increased with the advent of the availability of neuraminidase antiviral therapy for influenza A and B. Several rapid assays that detect both influenza A and B are now available.
Objectives: In this study we compared the performance of the BioStar FLU OIA assay to Bartels Viral Respiratory Screening and Identification Kit (Bartels Inc., Issaquah, WA), and cell culture.
Study design: A total of 145 patient specimens for influenza virus detection submitted in either viral transport medium or in sterile containers were evaluated by the three methods. Specimen types included nasal washings, nasal swabs, sputum, throat swabs, and bronchial alveolar lavage (BAL) fluids.
Results: Fifty six positive specimens were identified based on culture and/or DFA. Of these, 30 specimens were positive by the OIA assay for an overall sensitivity of 54%. The OIA assay detected 48% (n = 21) of the 44 culture positive specimens and 81% (n = 29) of the 36 DFA positive specimens. Eighty six of the 89 culture/DFA negative samples were negative by the OIA assay (97% specificity). Analysis of the OIA assay sensitivity from samples submitted in M4 transport medium or in sterile containers revealed that M4 transport medium does not reduce the sensitivity of the OIA assay. Fifteen of the 27 positive samples submitted in M4 transport medium were positive by the OIA assay (56% sensitivity) compared to 15 of 29 positive samples transported in sterile containers (52% sensitivity). Twelve specimens were either culture and/or DFA positive for viruses other than influenza, but negative by the OIA assay, suggesting that there was no cross reactivity of the OIA assay with the other virus types recovered in this study.
Conclusions: The overall excellent specificity of the BioStar FLU OIA allows for treatment of positive patients for influenza, however, a negative result should be confirmed by DFA and culture.