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NSW Public Health Bulletin archive

Challenges for the laboratory before and during an influenza pandemic Volume 17 Issue 9-10

Dominic E Dwyer, Ken A McPhie, V Mala Ratnamohan, Catherine NM Pitman

New South Wales Public Health Bulletin 17(10) 142 - 145 Published: 2006

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About the author/s

Dominic E Dwyer

Ken A McPhie

V Mala Ratnamohan

Catherine NM Pitman


Laboratory tests that reliably confirm infection with
a novel influenza strain are a major component of
pandemic planning. Combined nose and throat swabs
are the most practical respiratory tract sample to safely
obtain from patients. As nucleic acid tests are sensitive,
specific and rapid, they will be the diagnostic test of
choice during a pandemic. Virus isolation (in laboratories
with Physical Containment level 3 facilities) is required
for characterisation of the pandemic strain and vaccine
development. Antiviral resistance testing may be required
if antiviral drugs are used extensively to help control a
pandemic. Diagnostic strategies will vary throughout the
various pandemic phases.