Flu has spread at alarming levels in recent years. Thus it’s crucial for your staff to get prepared to collect and test flu specimen samples. According to the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the flocked swabs is the best method of flu test.
Why employ nasopharyngeal flocked swabs in Flu Testing?
The nasopharyngeal flocked swabs allow collection of more credible specimen for the flu test. Cotton may be used to collect samples for flu but has the disadvantage that it is not as abrasive like the flocked swabs. This implies that the nasopharyngeal flocked swabs specimens can be more credible their brush-like tip that releases a higher count of target cells and holds more liquid sample than the foam-tipped swabs.
Also, most doctors report that Flocked Swabs are easier to use and cause less discomfort in patients that other swab types.
Flu Swabbing: Which Test?
Rapid influenza diagnostic test (RIDT) and the traditional viral cell culture test are the most common flu tests types. NP swabbing with flocked swabs is the recommended method for flu testing over the other methods.
Nasopharynx (NP) flu swab – The nasopharynx is the section of the pharynx that is over the palate (soft).
Note: It is recommended that you wear personal protection equipment, such as gloves, eye protection, and surgical mask when collecting samples.
Here is How to run a Flu Test:
- Choose a swab that has a flocked tip and an elastic handle, preferably plastic.
- Tilt the head of the patient back.
- Insert the swab into the nostril straight back and let be horizontal to the nasal passage (nasopharynx) until you reach the distance marked on the swab handle.
- Rotate the swab, in the nostril, several times (roughly 5) and hold it inside the nostril for 5-10 seconds to allow it collect the enough sample material.
- Withdraw the swab from the nostril and put it into a vial with viral transport media (about 1-3ml)
- Check the indicated break-line point of the swab handle and break it at this point.
- Label the vial using the correct patient information such as the name, age and the date when the sample was taken.
After taking the sample and sealing it, the doctor may run the rapid flu test there or send the collected sample to the lab for further testing. Some flu tests may give the doctor results in 30 minutes. Others will require the specimens to forward to the lab, with results taking up to 24 hours. After the appropriate testing and diagnosis, the doctor administers the correct treatment.
There are many rapid flu test kits in the market. Some may help distinguish the different flu viruses including A and B. It is best you realize that the accuracy of the different test kits available in the market varies with the quality of the different manufacturer’s flu test kits; the procedure of sample collection and the amount of sample collected. Therefore, it is crucial that you procure flu test from manufacturers or suppliers who stock high-quality test kits.
Please note: False positives are more frequent when the flu incidences are low, such as at the commencement and conclusion of the flu season. Also, false positives should be expected at the peak of the flu season.
There are exceptions to the swab and procedure outlined above. However, you should reference this as a general overview to refresh on How to run a Flu Test.