HOW ARE CLINICAL LABS INVOLVED IN FLU SURVEILLANCE?
Clinical Laboratory Surveillance for influenza is carried out by a number of clinical labs in Maryland. These laboratories perform rapid influenza testing (rapid antigen tests) and report the results to DHMH. Every week, the clinical laboratories report the total number of tests performed (a measure of how many people were sick enough to require a test to rule out influenza) and the number of positives (a measure of how many people were found to have influenza virus in their samples).
However, not all positives indicate influenza infection. The precision of these tests is dependent on the prevalence of the virus (how much of it truly is present in the community at a certain time). The more prevalent the virus, the more likely that a positive test is accurate (positive predictive value).
The "gold standard" for influenza testing remains viral culture and/or real-time PCR (polymerase chain reaction).
If you are interested in participating in our clinical laboratory surveillance for influenza, please contact the influenza surveillance coordinator at 410-767-6700 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.