Early diagnosis of influenza - mission possible

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Early diagnosis of influenza - mission possible
Early diagnosis of influenza - mission possible

In the season of respiratory diseases, questions related to recognizing the flu and what to do when a person gets sick are becoming more and more relevant. This is particularly important in view of the available specific (which affect the virus) anti-influenza drugs from the class of the so-called neuraminidase inhibitors. However, they are effective only when applied early - up to 48 hours from the appearance of the first symptoms of the disease. This is determined by their mechanism of action - generally by blocking the spread of viral particles from infected to uninfected cells. Usually, when 2 or more days have passed since the onset of clinical manifestations, so many cells are already infected that the administration of this class of specific anti-influenza drugs becomes ineffective.

The clinical picture of influenza infection, although with a more characteristic manifestation, is not always easy to recognize, especially when the situation is not epidemic and a number of other pathogens circulate together with the influenza virus. Usually, these are the periods before and at the beginning of an influenza epidemic, as well as towards its end. There are a variety of methods for diagnosing influenza infection. Among them, those that allow fast, direct (to detect a part of the influenza particle) identification, are easy to implement and, last but not least, are affordable in terms of availability and price, are of particular importance.

It is important to know that:

• Rapid and easy-to-perform diagnostic tests are available to show the presence of influenza virus in patient material

These are the so-called rapid tests for the detection of influenza type A and B antigens. A similar test is also available in the Laboratory of Virology at the "Sofiyamed" Medical Center

• A secretion is examined, most often taken with a sterile swab from the back of the nose; it is best taken immediately before the test

It is good to have the test materials taken by an experienced medical person. In case of preliminary sampling, the swab must be placed in a liquid environment (perhaps in a sterile ampoule with physiological solution), and its transportation to the laboratory for examination should be done as quickly as possible - up to 30-60 minutes

• With early diagnosis, specific anti-influenza drugs are available, suitable even for babies a few months old. However, the treatment is only indicated for influenza infection

A positive test result helps determine the correct diagnosis with a very high probability. This allows early initiation of specific treatment, with dosage forms available for both adults and children and infants. However, a negative result does not always rule out the diagnosis of influenza

In any case, the diagnosis of influenza, treatment and follow-up, as well as the decision on the need for hospitalization should be carried out by a relevant specialist doctor

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