Wednesday, September 18 2013, 06:34 PM MDT
Excess Antibiotics Lead to Bacteria Resistance
(KUTV) A new blood test may one day be able to tell whether an infection is bacterial or viral.
It's important because it may help cut down on the over-prescription of antibiotics which has led to bacteria-resistant superbugs.
Vinita Nair has tonight's check your health report.
Researchers at Duke Medicine have developed a test that could drastically cut down on the excess prescriptions of antibiotics. Using a blood sample, they can tell whether a person’s respiratory illness is viral or bacterial.
This test could nine times out of ten tell you if this patient had a viral infection or if they did not.
While bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics, viral infections like a cold cannot.
The two kinds of illnesses are hard to distinguish, so Dr. Aimee Zaas's team focused on how the body's immune system reacts.
This particular test identifies how the body's white blood cells respond to infection and actually looks for genes that are relatively specific to viral infection.
Using antibiotics when you don't need them is a big problem, because the bacteria build up a resistance to the drug.
The duke blood test still has to undergo more study and researchers want to make it faster. Right now it takes 12 hours to get results. Doctors say it needs to be under an hour for it to be useful
Federal health officials say at least 2 million people in the United States become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics each year.
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)