'Simple influenza test not reliable for H1N1'

 
“The test came negative and the doctor told me that my child need not go for the H1N1 virus test,” Singh said.

However, experts and doctors dealing with swine flu are stressing that such tests are unreliable and are not recommended to detect the H1N1 virus. “It is a rapid test which is not at all reliable. It is cheaper, a simple blood test, but in no way indicates whether a person is affected with swine flu or not,” Randeep Guleria, head of medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) said.

Citing Reeda Shaikh’s example, Guleria said a lab had carried out the simple influenza test, which had come out negative, although the 14-year-old girl was infected with the H1N1 virus. “When the H1N1 test was finally done by the NIV (National Institute of Virology), it came out positive for swine flu,” he said. Shaikh, who died on August 3 at a private hospital in Pune, was India’s first swine flu fatality. So far, 20 people have died of the disease and over 1,000 people have been infected with the H1N1 virus in India.

“One needs to understand that such tests are not right. In Reeda’s case that happened. Doctors didn’t know that she was suffering from swine flu and delayed treatment killed her,” Guleria added. Like Singh, there are others who are going for the simple influenza test to avoid testing in government hospitals because of crowds.

S Chaterjee, a consultant at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, said: “There are two different tests for checking seasonal flu and swine flu and it is dangerous if doctors are testing common flu and assuring patients that they don’t have swine flu.”

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