In a primary care setting, a network of influenza rapid influenza detection tests (RIDTs) with wireless transmission of results approximated the goal of accurate, real-time influenza surveillance, a recent study found. A network of 19 primary care clinics across Wisconsin were recruited for the study, including 4 sites already involved in ongoing influenza surveillance and 15 new sites. Each site was provided with a Quidel Sofia Influenza A+B RIDT analyzer attached to a wireless router. Influenza tests, along with patient age, were transmitted immediately and forwarded to the surveillance team daily. Among the results:
- 316 of 1,119 cases tested between September 15, 2013, and June 28, 2014 were positive for influenza.
- The system provided early detection of the influenza outbreak in Wisconsin.
- The influenza peak between January 12-25, 2014, as well as the epidemic curve, closed matched that from the established polymerase chain reaction laboratory network.
Temte JL, Barlow S, Schemmel A, et al. New method for real time influence surveillance in primary care: A Wisconsin Research and Education Network (WREN) supported study. J Am Board Fam Med. 2017;30(5):615-623. doi:10.3122/jabfm.2017.05.170031.
This study represents a clever use of available technology to facilitate more rapid analysis and dissemination of important epidemiologic information. Knowing the rate of influenza infection in the community is helpful in order to know when to institute infection control measures, particularly in places like nursing homes. Currently, we do not know until weeks later when influenza has entered a community. This new technology holds promise for real time information that may allow us to institute real-time interventions to decrease infection rates. —Neil Skolnik, MD