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© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Objective: Identifying influenza A or B as cause of influenza-like illness (ILI) is a challenge due to non-specific symptoms. An accurate, cheap and easy to use biomarker might enhance targeting influenza-specific management in primary care. The aim of this study was to investigate if C-reactive protein (CRP) is associated with influenza A or B, confirmed with PCR testing, in patients presenting with ILI. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Primary care in Lithuania, Norway and Sweden. Subjects: A total of 277 patients at least 1 year of age consulting primary care with ILI during seasonal influenza epidemics. Main outcome measures: Capillary blood CRP analysed as a point-of-care test and detection of influenza A or B on nasopharyngeal swabs in adults, and nasal and pharyngeal swabs in children using PCR. Results: The prevalence of positive tests for influenza A among patients was 44% (121/277) and the prevalence of influenza B was 21% (58/277). Patients with influenza A infection could not be identified based on CRP concentration. However, increasing CRP concentration in steps of 10 mg/L was associated with a significantly lower risk for influenza B with an adjusted odds ratio of 0.42 (0.25–0.70; p<.001). Signs of more severe symptoms like shortness of breath, sweats or chills and dizziness were associated with higher CRP. Conclusions: There was no association between CRP and influenza A. Increased concentration of CRP was associated with a lower risk for having influenza B, a finding that lacks clinical usefulness. Hence, CRP testing should be avoided in ILI, unless bacterial pneumonia is suspected.Key points Identifying influenza A or B as cause of influenza-like illness (ILI) is a challenge due to non-specific symptoms. There was no association between concentration of CRP and influenza A. Increased concentration of CRP was associated with a lower risk for having influenza B, a finding that lacks clinical usefulness. A consequence is that CRP testing should be avoided in ILI, unless bacterial pneumonia or similar is suspected.

Original publication

DOI

10.1080/02813432.2020.1843942

Type

Journal article

Journal

Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care

Publication Date

01/01/2020