United States approves rapid avian flu test

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a test that can detect the deadly H5N1 virus in humans through throat or nose swabs in 40 minutes. Current laboratory analyses that detect the avian flu strain can take up to four hours for confirmation.

Based on past pandemics the world is now closer to another influenza pandemic than at any time since 1968, when the last of the previous century's three pandemics occurred, according to World Health Organization (WHO).

As of 8 April 15 countries have reported 417 human H5N1 infections and 257 deaths since 2003.

Created by Arbor Vita Corporation with backing from the US Navy, the rapid test has not yet been approved for use outside the USA, nor has its price been set.