News / Health

    Blood Test to Help Doctors Make Right Call on Prescribing Antibiotics

    FILE - A microbiologist reads a panel to check on a bacterium's resistance to an antibiotic in the Infectious Disease Laboratory at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
    FILE - A microbiologist reads a panel to check on a bacterium's resistance to an antibiotic in the Infectious Disease Laboratory at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
    Jessica Berman

    Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem worldwide. One of the biggest culprits is treatment for routine colds. Experts say doctors often send their patients home with prescriptions for antibiotics because they can not determine the source of the illnesses.

    Researchers concerned about the overuse of antibiotics have developed a blood test to help physicians determine whether patients' colds are the result of bacterial or viral infections.

    Ephraim Tsalik, a professor of medicine at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and an emergency room physician, said viral infections do not respond to antibiotics, and if such drugs are prescribed unnecessarily, there is the risk of creating resistance to antibiotics in the patient over time.

    “When you magnify that against millions of people who are getting antibiotics unnecessarily, what might have been a small risk becomes a very real one across the population,” Tsalik said.

    The study by Tsalik and his colleagues, described in the journal Science Translational Medicine, involved 31 people, 10 with bacterial pneumonia and 21 with a flu virus.  

    From these, investigators developed the profiles of about 20,000 genes. The gene activity is different, depending upon whether someone is infected with a bacterium or a virus.

    Then, the researchers tested the blood samples of 300 sick patients. The microbes included rhinoviruses and strep infections.

    Tsalik and his team compared the results to the gene profiles of people who were not sick, "and we found we got an accuracy of 87 percent" in distinguishing noninfectious from infectious illness and bacterial from viral causes, "which we very excited to see, considering there is really very little out there and just about any ability to discriminate between these different groups is an improvement over the current state.”

    Currently, it takes one day for the gene expression test to yield a result. Tsalik said researchers are trying to whittle the processing time down to an hour or less.

    You May Like

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Colin M Thomas from: United States
    January 23, 2016 10:42 AM
    "there is the risk of creating resistance to antibiotics in the patient over time". This is factually incorrect and a common misconception. Use of antibiotics selects for those bacteria that are resistant and regular and constant selection pressure will increase the prevalence of resistant bacteria circulating in the community.The resistant bacteria are not confined to the person and the person does not become resistant. This incorrect framing of the problem also makes people misunderstand that industrial use of antibiotics in livestock feed is also an important contributor to this problem.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora