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Certain rapid flu tests don't work half the time

Two lab researchers test flu samples in China in 2018
Checking for the influenza virus at a research institute in Beijing, China, in 2018. Photo: Xinhua/Zhang Yuwei via Getty Images

A group of researchers confirmed via a study abstract what has been suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — rapid influenza antigen tests (RIATs) are not trustworthy because their sensitivity is too low.

Why it matters: 50% of patients infected with influenza may have had prolonged illness if they were initially misdiagnosed as flu-free and didn't receive the proper treatment, according to the abstract presented Sunday at the ASM Microbe 2018 conference.

"You have to be careful about relying heavily upon rapid flu tests."
— Anthony Fauci, director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases