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Flu testing machine gives doctors an advantage

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MENLO PARK, CA (KRON/CNN) – Doctors have a new tool to help diagnosis the flu.

It’s faster and more accurate.

Tarajean Lee has recovered after recently testing positive for the flu.

“I was out of work for, for days,” Lee said. “It just really knocked me down.”

Fortunately for her, the clinic has a diagnostic tool, a machine that looks for the flu virus in a different way and is far more effective than conventional tests, Dr. Anthony Powell said.

“This test uses what’s called nucleic amplification,” he said. “It’s very accurate, so for Influenza B, it’s 100-percent sensitive, and for influenza A, it’s 90-95 percent sensitive, so it’s much, much better.”

Traditional rapid flu tests, still the most common type, requires a swab deep in the nasal cavity and are just 50-70 percent accurate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That can produce false negatives, which means a patient with the flu may not know it.

“So, we can get you treated when you need the therapy, and we can feel confident that you actually have the flu and that our test is accurate, and we can be proactive in treated members of your family and that can make a big difference in the spread of the flu,” Powell said.

And that is huge given the fact that the CDC also says that the flu vaccine is just 36 percent effective overall.

The machines have been finding their way into more and more clinics and may help to save lives.

“I mean I knew right then and there,” Lee said. “The doctor came in and said, ‘You are positive,’ and they could treat me right away.”

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