CDC wants high-tech diagnostics for influenza

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is evaluating new technologies in an attempt to cut down on the time it takes to diagnose cases of influenza using standard laboratory tests and to communicate the results of those tests to other entities.

The Influenza Division within the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) at the CDC is especially interested in looking at point-of-care tests, which can be administered at a resident's bedside, in an emergency room or in a doctor's office, and whose results can be transmitted wirelessly within minutes of the test's administration.

The ability to identify and track influenza faster could have significant impact on older adults. People age 65+ account for more than half of those hospitalized for the flu and nearly 90 perecent of all flu-related deaths each year, notes the National Council on Aging.

In a notice published in The Federal Register on January 29, the CDC said it also plans to upgrade the way it collects and transmits surveillance data. "For commercial products with approval for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), HHS/CDC/NCIRD Influenza Division is seeking to evaluate the potential supplementation of current national laboratory-based influenza surveillance data with influenza test result data that can be transmitted directly to a public health entity (state, local, or CDC) from the test platform electronically, such as through wireless technology. Direct test platform-based reporting capability has been newly established. Current surveillance incorporates data from healthcare provider offices and laboratories through manual or automated reporting functions; however, most of the current testing platforms do not have the capacity to directly transmit reports. Such reports represent a new data source and thus require evaluation and determination of appropriate data use agreements."

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