When doctors diagnose an infected patient, it is hard to determine whether the patient needs antibiotics or not, because to viral infections, different from common cold or the flu, antibiotics are not effective. Also, overprescription of antibiotics to patient can cause antibiotics-resistant infections, which are very difficult for doctors to handle, according to the study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
However, it is sometimes difficult for doctors to determine whether viruses or bacteria are making a patient sick, because symptoms that the patients have might be similar even though the cause of the infections are different. In this new test discovered by researchers from Stanford University, doctors can now easily determine whether an infection is viral or bacterial within few hours.
This test works by looking at the activity of our body’s immune system, which responds differently as the type of disease changes. To be specific, there are 7 genes that are responsible for giving certain molecules to our immune system to use it as a response to an infection. The level of producing those molecules, which can be measured in blood, differs depending on the type of infection, and the test can easily determine whether an infection is viral or bacterial just by measuring the level in blood.
By using this new test, doctors will be able to prevent antibiotics-resistant infections from occurring and give more accurate diagnosis to infected patients, which will lead to more successful treatment. However, the test needs to be faster and more accurate before it can be used in hospitals and clinic center, the researchers wrote.