During an influenza outbreak, a positive rapid flu test is likely to indicate influenza infection. However, rapid tests vary in their ability to detect flu viruses, depending on the type of rapid test used, and on the type of flu viruses circulating. Also, rapid tests appear to be better at detecting flu in children than adults. This variation in ability to detect viruses can result in some people who are infected with the flu having a negative rapid test result. (This situation is called a false negative test result.) Despite a negative rapid test result, your health care provider may diagnose you with flu based on your symptoms and their clinical judgment.
- The flu is contagious. It can be spread from the day before symptoms appear, to between seven and 14 days after getting sick.
- wash hands frequently, especially after coughing or blowing your nose
- avoid people who are sick and attempt to isolate individuals at home that are ill
- cover mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
- ask your doctor about vaccination—flu vaccine available at all HHC offices
Will my health care provider test me for flu if I have flu-like symptoms?
Not necessarily. Most people with flu symptoms do not require testing because the test results usually do not change how you are treated.
Your health care provider may diagnose you with flu based on your symptoms and their clinical judgment or they may choose to use an influenza diagnostic test. During an outbreak of respiratory illness, testing for flu can help determine if flu viruses are the cause of the outbreak. Flu testing can also be helpful for some people with suspected flu who are pregnant or have a weakened immune system, and for whom a diagnosis of flu can help their doctor make decisions about their care.
The staff at any of the Horizon Health Center Offices can assist with any questions regarding influenza and can assist in determining if your symptoms are typical of influenza. Please call any office location for assistance. Extensive additional information is available at the Centers for Disease Control