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Clin Lab Med. 2009 Dec;29(4):649-60. doi: 10.1016/j.cll.2009.07.006.

Antigen-based assays for the identification of influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus: why and how to use them in pediatric practice.

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Department of Maternal and Pediatric Sciences, University of Milan, Fondazione IRCCS Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Mangiagalli e Regina Elena, 20122 Milano, Italy.


This article describes the clinical and socioeconomic relevance of influenza (IV) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in pediatrics, the characteristics and limitations of currently available assays, and the impact of rapid diagnostic tests. This article shows that rapid tests for the detection and identification of IV and RSV in the respiratory secretions of infants and children are useful in the diagnosis of common, and possibly severe diseases, such as influenza and bronchiolitis. The tests' specificity and sensitivity make them most reliable when the prevalence of influenza or RSV infection is high, which suggests that their routine use should be restricted to the peak periods of viral circulation. The most recently marketed tests are similarly effective in identifying viruses, and so pediatricians should choose those that are less expensive, less time consuming, and easier to perform and to interpret.

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