Point of Care Strategy for Rapid Diagnosis of Novel A/H1N1 Influenza Virus

Fédération de Microbiologie, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Marseille, Marseille, France.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 04/2010; 5(2):e9215. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009215
Source: PubMed


Within months of the emergence of the novel A/H1N1 pandemic influenza virus (nA/H1N1v), systematic screening for the surveillance of the pandemic was abandoned in France and in some other countries. At the end of June 2009, we implemented, for the public hospitals of Marseille, a Point Of Care (POC) strategy for rapid diagnosis of the novel A/H1N1 influenza virus, in order to maintain local surveillance and to evaluate locally the kinetics of the pandemic.
Two POC laboratories, located in strategic places, were organized to receive and test samples 24 h/24. POC strategy consisted of receiving and processing naso-pharyngeal specimens in preparation for the rapid influenza diagnostic test (RIDT) and real-time RT-PCR assay (rtRT-PCR). This strategy had the theoretical capacity of processing up to 36 samples per 24 h. When the flow of samples was too high, the rtRT-PCR test was abandoned in the POC laboratories and transferred to the core virology laboratory. Confirmatory diagnosis was performed in the core virology laboratory twice a day using two distinct rtRT-PCR techniques that detect either influenza A virus or nA/N1N1v. Over a period of three months, 1974 samples were received in the POC laboratories, of which 111 were positive for nA/H1N1v. Specificity and sensitivity of RIDT were 100%, and 57.7% respectively. Positive results obtained using RIDT were transmitted to clinical practitioners in less than 2 hours. POC processed rtRT-PCR results were available within 7 hours, and rtRT-PCR confirmation within 24 hours.
The POC strategy is of benefit, in all cases (with or without rtRT-PCR assay), because it provides continuous reception/processing of samples and reduction of the time to provide consolidated results to the clinical practitioners. We believe that implementation of the POC strategy for the largest number of suspect cases may improve the quality of patient care and our knowledge of the epidemiology of the pandemic.

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