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A quick blood test would be enough to tell someone if their medical condition requires an antibiotic treatment or not.
The experts warned long time ago that antibiotics are used more than necessary, and they are also prescribed for viral infections, over which they have no power.
A team of scientists has been working on a method to test whether an infection is caused by a bacterium or by a virus. The research is especially useful for family physicians, which could be able to discern between patients that need antibiotics and those that do not need this type of treatment.
The quick blood test involves gene responses, and the results will be available in just an hour.
Such a test would prevent the risk of creating antibiotic resistance in the population. Another advantage would be the fact that the patient will avoid the secondary effects of antibiotic use.
Among the unwanted effects of antibiotics, the authors remind tendon ruptures, kidney damages, or changes in the normal bacterial flora that resides in the gut.
The medical experts explain that the abuse of antibiotics is the primary cause for the apparition of the antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can be treated with difficulty as it developed with protection against all the known medicine.
The spread of such new type of bacteria could lead to a series of incurable diseases. It had been estimated that the emergence of new diseases would cause by 2050 a $100 trillion loss in the gross domestic product all over the world.
The officials recommend doctors to be careful in correctly diagnosing a bacterial infection and to prescribe antibiotics only in proper cases. However, it is difficult for physicians to tell whether a medical condition is caused by a bacteria or a virus.
As the symptoms are very similar, the researchers turned to the gene expression. The cell extracts information from genes and it expresses it in RNA. When the organism fights an infection, the cell mirrors the molecules differently.
The team of scientists reports they discovered different responses in the two cases. The test was used on 96 critically ill children in Nepal, and it requires only seven genes to detect whether the infection is viral or bacterial.
Even if the quick block test proved to be correct when tested on complicated medical conditions such as the ones in Nepal, in order to make it available for doctors the scientists need to be incorporated in a special device.
In the meantime, the general population is advised to be careful with infections that are caused by viruses, such as colds, flu, bronchitis, sinus infections, which do not need antibiotic treatment but still a visit to the doctor in necessary in order to obtain a correct cure and to avoid complications.
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