Respiratory Infections

What are Upper Respiratory Tract Infections?
Upper respiratory tract infections include any infection of the sinuses, nasal passages, pharynx, and larynx. Upper respiratory tract infections are usually caused by viruses, but they can also be caused by bacteria.   Most people experience an average of 2 respiratory infections each year; these infections can lead to severe disease in high risk populations, which include young children, the elderly, and anyone with weakened or compromised immune systems.

How Prevalent are Respiratory Tract Infections?
Respiratory infections cause more doctor visits and absences from school and work than any other illness.It is estimated that 5 – 20% of people in the United States and 10% of Europeans are infected with influenza each year during flu season; globally resulting in about 3-5 million severe cases and 250,000-500,000 deaths every year.3-5 However, it is not just influenza that can cause respiratory infections; in addition to the flu, there are approximately 500 million non–influenza respiratory infections occurring annually.6

Make Important Decisions About Patient Care Sooner
Batch-based or send-out testing often requires more than 24 hours for results to be reported. By bringing a rapid multiplex molecular method such as the ePlex® Respiratory Pathogen (RP) Panel in-house, institutions can address a number of important decisions about patient care sooner. 7, 8

These changes include:

  • A reduction in the time patients spend in the ED or ICU waiting for results.
  • Optimization of bed management with earlier admission of high risk patients and discharge of low risk patients.
  • Initiation of targeted therapy sooner through the reduction of unnecessary antibiotics for viral infections.
  • Streamlining of isolation protocols to prevent spread of infections.

Decrease in the volume of confirmation testing to identify the cause of infection.

Rapid, Actionable Results Can Improve Outcomes and Reduce Cost-of-Care
While many systems claim sample-to-answer capabilities, only the ePlex system is able to integrate the entire process from order-to-report to better realize the benefits of rapid, multiplex molecular diagnostics. The ePlex system helps improve overall turnaround time with end-to-end integration that includes:

  • Bi-directional LIS to automate and accelerate order entry and results reporting
  • Random and continuous access and a modular, scalable design to ensure capacity that meets peak season demand
  • Independently validated shortest hands-on time in the lab

Multiple studies have shown that rapid multiplex molecular diagnostics for respiratory pathogens can help improve outcomes, reduce cost-of-care and support key quality initiatives.9,10 The ePlex system and the comprehensive ePlex Respiratory Pathogen Panel provide physicians the actionable information they need to help make timely treatment decisions.

Learn More






1. American College of Physicians: A Guide to Managing Respiratory Infections. Breathe Easy. 2008
2. Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library.,P02966 (accessed February 2016)
4. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Seasonal Influenza. (accessed February 2016)
5. World Health Organization. (2014). Seasonal Influenza Fact Sheet 211.
6. Fendrick A, et al. (2003) The Economic Burden of Non-Influenza-Related Viral Respiratory Tract Infection in the United States. Arch Intern Med 163(4):487-94.
7. Schreckenberger and McAdam. 2015. Point-Counterpoint: Large Multiplex PCR Panels Should be First Line Test for Detection of Respiratory and Intestinal Pathogens. J Clin Microbiol 53(10)3110-3115
8. Babady, N.E., et. Al., 2018. Multicenter Evaluation of the ePlex Respiratory Pathogen Panel for the Detection of Viral and Bacterial Respiratory Tract Pathogens in Nasopharyngeal Swabs. J Clin Microbiol 56(2) e01658-17.
9. Rogers, B. et al. 2015. Impact of a Rapid Respiratory Panel Test on Patient Outcomes. Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. 139:636‐641.
10. R.M. Martinez, H.E.Ka, L.M. Scicchitano, and D.M. Wolk, Geisinger Health System, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Danville PA, Wilkes Univ., Wilkes-Barre, PA

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