Influenza virus is a highly contagious respiratory RNA virus of the Orthomyxoviridae family and causes an acute viral infection of the respiratory tract that is highly infectious with a usual incubation period of one to three days. For otherwise healthy individuals, influenza is an unpleasant but usually self-limiting disease with recovery usually within two to seven days. The illness may however be complicated by bronchitis, secondary bacterial pneumonia or, in children, otitis media. Influenza can be complicated more unusually by meningitis, encephalitis or meningoencephalitis.
Influenza infection is most common during the winter months, typically spreading rapidly through respiratory droplets and aerosols from an infected person. The use of laboratory or point of care tests can assist in the right diagnosis and treatment of influenza, reducing inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions and the number of repeat doctor visits. Testing aids in the decision to implement infection prevention and control measures for influenza.