Serological testing for type A influenza viruses is used for the laboratory diagnosis and follow-up of influenza patients as well as for the design of treatment, since in infection with influenza A virus the antiviral drug amantadine can be administered while in infection with influenza B virus amantadine can not be administered.
Influenza viruses, the causative agents of influenza, are RNA viruses of the Orthomyxoviridae family. The genome of influenza viruses is fragmented and comprises eight separate RNA chains, each encoding a specific protein. The virus is surrounded by an envelope consisting of lipids of the cell membrane together with viral proteins (hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, responsible for viral infectivity and virus release). Influenza viruses are genetically changing. Minor antigenic changes are the general rule (antigenic drift) and are explained by the natural selection of point mutations in the hemagglutinin, under the pressure of the immune system. More pronounced changes (antigenic shifts) explain the periodic occurrence of influenza epidemics and pandemics.
Influenza viruses are airborne and propagate under normal conditions to the nasopharynx mucosa, resulting in the appearance of rhinitis, pharyngitis, or tracheobronchitis, after 24-72 hours incubation period. Pneumonia caused solely by the influenza virus is rare. As a rule, pneumonia is caused by infections with Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Pneumococcal, or Hemophilus. These infections can be treated with antibiotics.
Type A influenza virus is the most important and most frequently observed influenza virus. It causes repeated epidemics or even pandemics from time to time. After a 1-5 day incubation period, in which the viruses multiply in the nasopharynx mucosa, rhinitis, and pharyngitis accompanied by fever develop. Headache and muscle pain (myositis) may occur, which may be accompanied by nausea and loss of appetite. After 6 days, the fever may fall, but rhinitis, cough, and weakness remain for at least 1-2 weeks.
Type B influenza virus tends to have fewer antigenic changes and is involved in only a few epidemic outbreaks.
Influenza C virus is rarely isolated and plays a minor role as a pathogen.
Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. The correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".
Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings, and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.
At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.