Posted on Sep 18, 2013

Hospitals often have difficulty determining whether an infection is bacterial or viral. This distinction is quite important because the mode of treatment for each type of infection is different. But now a new method for figuring out this distinction has been created just in time for the winter cold and flu season.

CBS News reports, “Researchers at Duke University say they have created a blood test that can determine whether a person’s respiratory illness is caused by a bacterial infection or virus, with over 90 percent accuracy. What’s more, the test only takes about 12 hours to get results.” Presently hospitals take several days to figure out whether an infection is bacterial or viral and the results are not even accurate some of the time.

One doctor told CBS that this new, innovative blood test technique is great because it is accurate and will prevent may doctors from giving unnecessary antibiotics to patients. “Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections and are useless against viral ones. Since both types of infections cause similar symptoms, it can be hard for doctors to determine which one is causing a patient’s illness,” according to CBS.

An expert told CBS, “A lot of times, you will give who is very sick or mildly sick antibiotics, and they will have a viral infection. This exerts a selective pressure on the environment as a whole and on all the bacteria that all of us carry. Certain bacteria are naturally resistant to antibiotics. Once a treatment wipes all the other bacteria in the system, these ‘superbugs’ continue to thrive and pass on their resistant genetic information to other bacteria. People then need stronger antibiotics to fight previously simple bacterial infections.”

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Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer