Lifewatch: Flu test

Reported by Claire Hosmann - email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - There is a new flu test that can detect the type of virus you have within hours, instead of days.

"It's very important to detect very early that it's the normal flu or if it's avian flu, also known as the H5N1 virus," said Mark Stevenson, president of Applied Biosystems.

Meaning, any patient with Bird Flu would be detected and treated early and quickly, possibly preventing a major outbreak.

The FDA just gave clearance for this system to run special tests developed by the Centers for Disease Control.

The test may also help ensure that your future flu shot is right on target with the type of flu that is circulating that season.

"Eventually what comes out of this is because you know directly what the strain is, we can target much earlier what is the right flu shot to give people. At the moment we're rather in slow in reacting to this. This would be a much faster way to say, here's the strains that have come out this year, here's the right flu shot," said Stevenson.

The CDC estimates the flu kills 36,000 people every year in the United States.  If this new test can lead to a more effective flu shot, perhaps it could save lives.

The test can also differentiate between seasonal and novel influenza strains.

For more information about the new test, click here.