Can a Blood Test Detect Swine Flu?

Updated at: Aug 06, 2013
Can a Blood Test Detect Swine Flu?

Blood tests during swine flu are used to rule out human Influenza A and B and they can therefore, help in detecting whether one has the disease or not.

Dr Poonam Sachdev
Swine FLUWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Aug 05, 2011

Blood testThe outbreak of the H1N1 swine flu caused panic worldwide as this influenza strain is much more virulent than other strains of the viruses that cause flu. Besides, it can be fatal if not treated appropriately and thousands of people have died because of the H1N1 swine flu worldwide. The US Food and Drug Authority (FDA), has recently approved a blood test to rapidly detect the presence of influenza virus in the bloodstream of a person suffering from flu like illness. The test (popularly known as H1N1 instant tests) can detect the presence of influenza flu virus in the blood in about 30 minutes. Some people are questioning the accuracy and reliability of these H1N1 instant tests but many medical practitioners who treat swine flu patients, find the H1N1 instant tests fairly useful in diagnosing swine flu in people. Read to know the advantages and disadvantages blood test to detect swine flu.

The Advantage of blood test to detect swine flu (the H1N1 Instant Tests)

The test tries to identify the presence of pathogens in a person’s bloodstream. The test then further checks for RNA and other markers to see if they are a strain of the influenza virus. The test can detect the presence of the virus in less than 30 minutes (hence it is called H1N1 instant test). This is the major advantage of this test. The sooner the cause of the patient’s symptoms is confirmed the sooner he or she can be given the right form of treatment and when treating a serious infection such as H1N1 swine flu efficiency is always invaluable.

The Disadvantage of blood test to detect swine flu (the H1N1 Instant Tests)

The major advantage of the H1N1 instant tests is their speed in detecting the H1N1 swine flu virus, but the two main disadvantages are:

  • The instant tests sacrifice sensitivity for speed. It is well known that rapid influenza diagnostic tests are not sensitive.
  • The test can detect the presence of influenza virus in a person’s blood, but cannot confirm the strain (whether the virus is of the Influenza A strain or the Influenza B strain).

If you or someone in your family has symptoms of flu, consult your doctor and if your doctor recommends a blood test to detect swine flu do not disregard it. Besides the blood test, your doctor may recommend other definitive tests for the virus (such as a culture of your throat or nose). Getting a swab of the inside of your nose or throat can also help to confirm if your symptoms are because of influenza virus or some other infection.




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