Respiratory viruses are responsible for a large proportion of acute respiratory illness in adults as well as children, and are associated with a huge socio-economic burden worldwide. Development of accurate point-of-care tests (POCT) for respiratory viruses has been listed as a priority by the World Health Organisation and replacing the current paradigm of empirical antimicrobial use with directed use is a listed goal of the movement for reduction in antimicrobial resistance. POCTs for respiratory viruses have previously been limited by the poor sensitivity of antigen detection based tests and by a limited range of detectable viruses. Highly accurate molecular platforms are now able to test for a comprehensive range of viruses, can be operated by non-laboratory staff and can generate a result in approximately 1 h, making them potentially deployable as POCTs. The potential clinical benefits of POC testing for respiratory viruses in adults include a reduction in unnecessary antibiotic use, improved antiviral prescribing for influenza and rationalisation of isolation facilities. We review here the burden of disease, the currently available molecular platforms with potential for POCT use and the existing evidence for clinical and economic benefits of testing for respiratory viruses in adults.
Keywords: Acute respiratory illness; Adults; Antimicrobial resistance; Influenza; Point-of-care testing; Respiratory viruses.
Copyright © 2015 The British Infection Association. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.