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NEW BUG TEST

ANCHOR LEAD: DIAGNOSIS OF BACTERIAL INFECTIONS IN THE BLOOD MAY BE IMPROVED WITH A NEW TEST, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS

Septicemia is medicalese for a bacterial infection that is so overwhelming it is found in the blood, and is often life-threatening.  Yet physicians may not be able to identify which bug is causing the infection and institute appropriate treatment for a couple of days with currently available laboratory techniques.  Now a study in the Lancet describes a new method.  David Thomas, chair of infectious disease at Johns Hopkins, comments.

THOMAS:  If germs are in the blood, why with all the advances in biomedical research can’t we find out the cause of the infection sooner? They used very sensitive techniques to expand the amount of DNA from bacteria and just like you can use DNA evidence in a court case to find out which human was on the scene these kinds of tests can help us know which germ is causing a patient’s illness.  What this study shows is that this can be achieved 18 hours earlier than using conventional techniques.   :31

Thomas says the time saved with this technique may translate to lives saved, but larger studies must confirm.   At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.



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