Quest Diagnostics has reported that its Focus Diagnostics infectious disease reference laboratory has introduced a real-time polymerase chain reaction test to aid in identifying influenza A H1N1 swine flu virus.

The Focus Diagnostics influenza A H1N1 (swine flu) RNA real-time RT-PCR test is the first laboratory testing service to be introduced by a commercial laboratory to aid in the identification of patients infected with the novel H1N1 virus and differentiate patients infected with other seasonal influenza A strains.

Focus Diagnostics validated its new influenza A H1N1 RNA real-time RT-PCR test using clinical specimens submitted to its reference laboratory confirmed as positive for the novel H1N1 influenza virus by public health authorities.

Quest Diagnostics chief medical officer Jon Cohen said that this capability could be particularly important if the novel H1N1 virus continues to spread in the US or re-emerges this autumn or winter.

“Our new laboratory test will be an important tool to help healthcare professionals and public health authorities identify infected patients more quickly, promoting earlier diagnosis and treatment,” Cohen said.

Focus Diagnostics will perform the influenza A H1N1 RNA real-time RT-PCR laboratory test, in alignment with current public health guidelines, at its reference laboratory in Cypress, California.