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Delaware Health Alert Network #204

October 22, 2009 4:38 pm


Health Advisory
DPH TESTING

The Delaware Division of Public Health would like to remind providers of the criteria for submission of specimens to the Division of Public Health Laboratory (DPHL) for influenza testing and to reinforce the interim guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) related to clinical use of influenza diagnostic tests during the 2009-2010 influenza season.

  1. Effective October 26, 2009:  Influenza specimens received by the Delaware Public Health Laboratory (DPHL) with information missing on the specimen submission form will not be tested. These specimens will be discarded.
  2. ONLY specimens to be submitted to the DPHL for influenza testing are those meeting the following criteria:
    • Hospitalized patients with screen positive or culture-confirmed results, including ante mortem specimens from patients who have died from influenza-like illness
    • Hospitalized patients for whom influenza infection is clinically suspected despite a negative result on a rapid influenza diagnostic test.
    • Patients presenting to healthcare providers participating in the US Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network (ILINet) who meet the surveillance case definition of influenza-like illness. Influenza-like Illness is defined as fever (temperature of 100°F [37.8°C] or greater) and a cough and/or a sore throat in the absence of a KNOWN cause other than influenza.
  3. The primary purpose of submitting a specimen to the Division of Public Health Laboratory per the above criteria is for disease surveillance. Indications for testing for clinical purposes have been published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Interim Recommendations for Clinical Use of Influenza Diagnostic Tests During the 2009-10 Influenza Season). According to this guidance, patients who should be considered for influenza diagnostic testing include:
    • Hospitalized patients with suspected influenza
    • Patients for whom a diagnosis of influenza will inform decisions regarding clinical care, infection control, or management of close contacts.
    • Patients who died of an acute illness in which influenza was suspected.

      While most patients with clinical illness consistent with uncomplicated influenza do not require diagnostic influenza testing for clinical management, specimens tested for clinical purposes should be sent to a commercial laboratory.

For further information about influenza call the Division of Public Health at 1-800-282-8672 or visit our website: http://www.flu.delaware.gov

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