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Pediatric influenza recommendations have been expanding in recent years. Recommendations have long been in place calling for vaccination of all children 6 months and older who have underlying conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and immunosuppression .

Then, because they too are at increased risk of influenza-related complications including hospitalization, all healthy children 6 through 59 months of age were recommended for annual influenza vaccination. Most recently, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended that this age range be expanded to include all children 6 months through 18 years of age.

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Does every mild upper respiratory infection need to be tested for swine flu?

Though it is recommended that all patients with flu like symptoms should be tested for H1N1 influenza, it may not be practically possible due to limited testing facilities. Besides, the infection is mild in most of the patients and is self limiting. Thus, one may have to test only those patients who are at a high risk group such as infants, patients with diabetes, heart disease, chronic illnesses, immunocompromised patients and chronic lung disease.

Is it always necessary to do the tests from government centres?

As of today, i.e. 11th August, 2009, the Government in all states is trying to increase the number of swine flu testing centres in all major cities, towns and peripheral regions. New testing centres are being set up by the Government.

In addition to this, to deal with the bulk of people rushing to be tested, the Health Ministry has directed the state governments to identify private hospitals and laboratories for the testing of swine flu.

It has been decided to allow private laboratories with a high level of bio-safety to conduct the swine flu tests but only after they are accredited by the Health Ministry based on their testing capacity.

What tests should be done?

The tests available at government testing centres are real-time RT-PCR, a viral culture and tests which detect rise in the antibodies against swine flu in the given blood sample. Apart from these, your local physician may perform a rapid dip stick test to diagnose Influenza A virus, and may then refer you to the government centre to find out if you have specific Influenza A H1N1 or not.

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