Amid a spurt in COVID-19 cases, influenza and other respiratory infections in the national capital, private hospitals and laboratories are offering comprehensive packages to eliminate the need for repeated testing.
Influenza, coronavirus, and respiratory syncytial virus, among others, usually share common symptoms like cough, runny nose and fever, and many times a single test does not diagnose the disease.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said the rise in influenza cases is due to the Influenza A subtype H3N2 virus. Hospitals across the country have been reporting a large number of influenza cases over the past few months.
India generally sees two peaks of seasonal influenza -- from January to March and the post-monsoon season. "Taking into account the significant increase in viral infections in the city, we have launched a multiplex PCR-based comprehensive flu panel which comprises 17 pathogens, including all common viruses such as Covid, influenza viruses, parainfluenza viruses, metapneumovirus, adenovirus, enterovirus, rhinovirus, RSV and others," said Arjun Dang, CEO and Partner of Dr Dangs Lab.
The pathology lab also offers a comprehensive respiratory panel which tests for 22 pathogens, including common bacteria and all the common circulating strains of viruses causing the current outbreak of flu.
"The advantage is that these tests give the results in just a few hours, are highly sensitive and are not affected by any antibiotics the patient may have taken prior to the test as they detect the nucleic acid of the pathogen," he said.
Based on the results, timely clinical decisions can be made along with a rationalised usage of antibiotics and antivirals. "These panels have a significant impact on patients as they provide a diagnosis in most cases, eliminating the need for repeated testing. The sample type required for these tests is a nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab, which is similar to that required for COVID-19 testing," Dang said.
Seeds of Innocence IVF Clinics and Genestrings Diagnostic Centre have also been offering an array of diagnostic tests for influenza-like illnesses.
Chetan Kohli, COO, Seeds of Innocence IVF Clinics and Genestrings Diagnostic Centre, said, "We are offering an array of tests for the last three to four weeks. These tests are expensive ones, priced at Rs 5,000 per panel, and the requests that we are getting are from hospitals. We are testing 30-odd samples every day."
Dr Nilesh Shah, President and Chief of Science and Innovation, Metropolis Healthcare, said, "Our Covi-Influenza Viral panel which covers tests such as Influenza A, Influenza B, H1N1, H3N2, RSV, SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) is Rs 5500, and the only flu panel is INR 4500. The patients opt for the tests through doctor's recommendations."