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Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 2010 Jul;67(3):246-50. doi: 10.1016/j.diagmicrobio.2010.02.020.

Performance of diagnostic tests to detect respiratory viruses in older adults.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA.


The performance of 4 laboratory methods for diagnosis of viral respiratory tract infections (RTI) in older adults was evaluated. Seventy-four nasopharyngeal (NP) swab specimens were obtained from 60 patients with RTI at a long-term care facility over 2 respiratory seasons. Sixteen specimens were positive for a respiratory virus by at least 1 method. Multiplex reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) by the Luminex xTAG Respiratory Viral Panel (RVP) detected 16 (100%) of the positive specimens, RVP of 24-h culture supernatant detected 8 (50%), direct fluorescent antibody testing detected 4 (25%), rapid culture detected 2 (12.5%), and rapid antigen testing detected none. For a comparison group, RVP was performed on NP swabs from 20 outpatient children with RTI. The mean fluorescence intensity by RVP was significantly lower for positive adult patients than pediatric patients (P = 0.0373). Our data suggest that older adult patients shed lower titers of viruses, necessitating a highly sensitive assay such as RT-PCR to reliably detect respiratory viral pathogens.

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