How are H7N9 virus infections diagnosed in people?
There are currently no tests available over the counter or at a doctor's office that can quickly detect and distinguish between infection with H7N9 virus and other seasonal influenza A viruses. However, a more sophisticated test that specifically detects H7N9 virus has been developed by CDC for use by qualified public health laboratories in the United States and internationally.
This test involves collecting a respiratory tract (i.e., nose, throat, lung) sample from a sick patient. The sample is then sent to a public health laboratory where testing known as rRT-PCR (real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) is conducted. rRT-PCR is very accurate and sensitive at detecting influenza viruses. This procedure typically provides results within 4 hours; however, the time involved in processing and reporting results may vary depending on the laboratory.