A quick test to diagnose viral or bacterial infection

Washington: Researchers claim to have developed a new test that quickly and accurately distinguishes between bacterial and viral infections in five hours.

Currently tests take 24 to 48 hours and aren`t always accurate enough for a clear-cut diagnosis. Doctors often prescribe antibiotics to provide patient relief before the test comes back, without waiting for the results.

Now, a team at at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has shown it is possible to distinguish a patient`s infection as either viral or bacterial by adding luminol to blood sample and measuring the glow, the `Journal of Analytical Chemistry` reported.

Luminol is a luminescent chemical substance used in crime scenes to locate traces of blood.

The research clearly indicated that white blood cells that protect the body (phagocytes) react differently to viral and bacterial infections and that the glow can detect those distinct reactions.

According to the study, "The method is time saving, easy to perform and can be commercially available, thus, having predictive diagnostic value and could be implemented in various medical institutions."

In the study, 69 patients admitted to Soroka University Medical Center in Beer-Sheva with various types of infections. Rather than looking at the infection, they looked at the immune system`s response to the infection.