FDA OKs High-Speed Flu Test

Technique will ID new strains in crucial early warning system
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2008 1:50 AM CDT
A man receives a flu shot as part of a national vaccination campaign. The FDA has approved a new genetic test to quickly identify new flu strains.   (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)
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(Newser) – A new genetic test for the flu virus, which slashes the time it takes to identify new strains from 4 days to 4 hours, has been approved by the FDA. The test will play a key role in an early warning system if the US is ever struck by a deadly mutant strain of flu or an epidemic of bird flu, AP reports, and it will improve treatment during the regular flu season.

"We'll now be able to detect influenza in the community faster, which allows us to take steps more quickly to protect and save lives," said the director of the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.