New rapid test differentiates viral, bacterial infections

July 15, 2011

Imagine if you had a quick and easy way to prove to a parent that their child?s illness was viral not bacterial, and that an antibiotic was not necessary. That day may be coming sooner than you think. Israel researchers have developed such a test that is time-saving, easy to perform and may soon be commercially available.

Imagine if you had a quick and easy way to prove to parents that their child’s illness was viral, not bacterial, and that an antibiotic was not necessary.

That day may be coming sooner than you think.

According to a report in the American Chemical Society’s journal Analytical Chemistry, scientists have developed and tested a rapid and accurate test to tell the difference between bacterial and viral infections.

In their study, Israeli researchers noted the problem that many pediatricians face: A bacterial infection can get worse if not treated with antibiotics but needlessly giving the drugs to patients with viral infections contributes to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. Current tests are not only time-consuming but also are not always accurate.

Their test is based on how polymorphonuclear leukocytes or phagocytes respond during different types of infections.

"The method is time-saving, easy to perform and can be commercially available, thus, having predictive diagnostic value and could be implemented in various medical institutions as an adjunct to clinical decision making," according to researchers.