The nasty flu season is big news -- on Wall Street and on your street. Whether the buzz is MedImmune's (NASDAQ:MEDI) revolutionary (but prohibitively expensive) nasal vaccine or what's starting to sound like a legitimate epidemic, the humble flu is this season's SARS.

Friday, a company named Quidel (NASDAQ:QDEL) was the latest beneficiary of flu mania, closing the day 12% higher.

It all started with BusinessWeek, where analysts suggested that Quidel could have a big year, citing a procedure that allows doctors to diagnose patients with influenza. The test, which takes just 10 minutes and is performed with a nasal swab, enjoys a 52% share of the flu-test market.

With media coverage touting the flu's early onset and several deaths prompting a run on vaccines, it certainly stands to reason that Quidel's test would do extremely well.

Each year, about 10% to 20% of Americans get the flu, which kills an estimated 36,000 and lands 114,000 in the hospital annually. And this year's strain is nothing to sneeze at. The CDC reports that the illness has exceeded epidemic proportions in some states already.

There are questions investors might want to ask, however. Quidel's CEO points out the growth potential for the test, citing research that only 20% of doctor's offices use flu tests. One might wonder why more doctors don't use the tests already, and how hard Quidel is working to increase its penetration.

On a more positive note, several news articles this month have outlined the upsurge in demand for flu tests at rival Becton Dickinson (NYSE:BDX), where employees are working overtime to keep up with the demand. Here's an indication that there's an interest in the tests this of all years, with many people having gone unvaccinated.

If flu hype drives everyone with a runny nose, a cough, or an ache or pain to the doctor's office to find out whether they have "the real deal" or just some annoying respiratory sickness, Quidel could indeed be in for a winning season.

Discuss the pros and cons of Quidel and other companies in the industry on the Biotech discussion board.

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