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Blood Test May Help Diagnose Whether Illness Is Due To Virus, Bacterium

Update Date: Jan 22, 2016 01:31 PM EST

A study shows that it is tough to determine if a patient is suffering from bacterial or viral infection, as the symptoms are similar and even a small number of diagnostic deaths alone have determined distinctions.

Duke Health scientists have a new test that can find out the reason for the infection. It would help to choose if the patient needs antibiotics or not. It would help patients dealing with a virus, which might lead to coughing, sneezing or runny noses, just like bacterial-based illnesses.

"Antibiotics treat bacteria, but they do not treat viruses. That's why distinguishing between these various causes of illness is very important to get the right treatment to the right patient, and to offer a prognosis for how the patient is likely to do," said study author Dr. Ephraim Tsalik, in a news release.

Hence, genetic signatures in blood samples can fix whether the pathogen is caused by a bacterium or a virus. Earlier, scientists searched for some signs of specific bug, but now, they search the sick person's genetic reaction to the microbe, says TIME Health.

The data showed an 87 percent accuracy rate in classifying more than 300 patients with common colds, flu or strep infections.

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