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Delaware Health Alert Network #240

October 4, 2010 10:42 am

Health Advisory

This year the Delaware Public Health Laboratory (DPHL) will be offering a Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRT-PCR) method for detection of influenza virus nucleic acids. This service is available to health care providers in Delaware at no charge.

The data generated by rRT-PCR will help determine what influenza viral types are circulating in Delaware, and the most appropriate treatment to provide to patients. Results will be available within 48 to 72 hours depending on the number of specimens received. rRT-PCR has the ability to detect non-viable viral RNA and provides optimal sensitivity and specificity for identification of influenza. Furthermore, DPHL will be able to use PCR to distinguish the common human strains of influenza virus (H1, H3) from uncommon strains (H5 and H7) and from the Influenza 2009 A(H1N1) pandemic strain, henceforth known as pandemic 2009 A/H1.

We encourage health care providers who submit influenza specimens to DPHL to be on the laboratory's information management system (LIMS). This system will provide real time electronic access to test results. State clinics are already on LIMS, but hospitals and sentinel physicians may not be. To gain access to LIMS you will need to sign a Memorandum of Understanding and receive 1-2 hours of training. To initiate the process, please call Kathy Gray, DPHL LIMS Administrator, at 302/223-1520.

Laboratory couriers will pick up specimens daily from our regular pick-up locations. For pick-up sites see the DPHL web site:

To receive a supply of collection kits please contact the laboratory kit room by calling 302/223-1520 or e-mailing Use the influenza virus collection kit, which is necessary for the collection and transport of specimens for identification of influenza types A and B. Instructions are included in the kit. If rapid testing has been performed, please provide the results on the requisition form.

Finally, we may ask that you be prepared to reduce the number of specimens you send to DPHL at the peak of the season. If we exceed our capacity for testing we will send out an e-mail giving instructions on numbers and types of specimens to submit.


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