Performance characteristics of a rapid immunochromatographic assay for detection of influenza virus in children during the 2003 to 2004 influenza season

Ann Emerg Med. 2006 Mar;47(3):250-4. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2005.10.019. Epub 2005 Dec 20.


Study objective: We evaluate the performance of a rapid assay (Binax NOW) for the detection of influenza A virus in children.

Methods: The performance of an in vitro rapid immunochromatographic assay for detection of influenza A virus was compared to viral culture in 4,383 consecutive respiratory specimens received during the 2003 to 2004 season, which included an influenza A epidemic in October and November of 2003.

Results: The overall test sensitivity was 61.6% (95% confidence interval [CI] 60.3% to 63.2%) and specificity was 95.8% (95% CI 95.1% to 96.3%). In preplanned subset analyses, we found the test more sensitive in infants aged 90 days or younger (sensitivity 70.3%; specificity 96.6%) and less specific during the epidemic (sensitivity 61.7%; specificity 90.4%).

Conclusion: This rapid assay was highly specific for detecting influenza A in children and thus appears useful for confirming this infection. Because of its limited sensitivity, however, a negative test cannot rule out influenza A.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chromatography / instrumentation
  • False Negative Reactions
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / instrumentation
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Influenza A virus / isolation & purification*
  • Influenza, Human / diagnosis*
  • Influenza, Human / virology*
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Virus Cultivation


  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic