Swiss hospital develops 36-hour swine flu diagnostics test

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Apr 30 2009 08:45 PM | Updated as of May 01 2009 04:45 AM

GENEVA - A Swiss hospital has developed a diagnostic test that can detect the swine flu virus in 36 hours, the hospital's spokeswoman said Thursday.

"It is available from today and it is the first generation of tests which allows us to get the diagnosis 36 hours after the test," Severine Hutin, spokeswoman for the University Hospital of Geneva, told AFP.

Hutin said laboratory specialists had developed the test after working on it "day and night over five days."

"They are now on the next development stage, they are trying to make a version that can obtain a diagnosis within a even shorter time."

The test, which will be used nationwide to investigate other suspected cases, had helped to confirm the first swine flu case in Switzerland.

The patient from the canton of Aargau in northern Switzerland, had began displaying flu symptoms after returning from Mexico, where the flu broke out.

World Health Organisation chief Margaret Chan said that the time required by countries to produce such diagnostic kits is "variable."

"With the right diagnostic kit the timeline for making the right diagnosis could be reduced," said Chan on Wednesday night, after she raised the pandemic alert level to phase five from six, signalling that a pandemic is "imminent."