Approved: 'New era' flu test detects four viruses in three hours

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Federal regulators have approved a diagnostic test than can screen for the flu and three other common respiratory viruses all at the same time. Results can be had in about three hours, they said.

The ProFlu+ test is more accurate at a higher speed than other tests currently on the market, according to a Food and Drug Administration statement ( released Friday and widely noted this week.

The test simultaneously screens respiratory secretions for four viruses that can cause influenza, pneumonia and bronchiolitis.

"This new test, which is part of the new era of molecular medicine, can help the medical community quickly determine whether a respiratory illness is caused by one of these four viruses and initiate the appropriate treatment," said Daniel Schultz, M.D., director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health. The test is made by Prodesse Inc., of Milwaukee.

Tens of thousands of U.S. seniors contract the flu each year; thousands die from complications to it annually, federal health officials say.