Antibiotics are often over-prescribed and misused, leading to a global threat of antibiotic resistance. But in a new study, researchers say they’re a step closer to developing a rapid blood test that distinguishes between viral and bacterial respiratory infections, which would mean more accurate antibiotic prescriptions.
Duke University researchers described in Science Translational Medicine a simple blood test that within an hour could alert a doctor whether antibiotics are truly necessary. The test, while still in the early development stages, measures an infected person’s genetic reaction to a microbe.
“Considering the huge vacuum and the void in helping doctors make decisions about antibiotic use, just about any kind of test is an improvement over what’s currently available,” said Dr. Ephraim Tsalik, assistant professor of medicine at Duke University.
Currently, around 50 percent of antibiotic prescriptions for respiratory infections may be unnecessary, according to the American College of Physicians and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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