The process of distinguishing between bacteria-based illnesses and virus-based ones has already been used by doctors for a while up to this point. Because this method takes at least 3 days to complete, a research was conducted in order to find a much faster way of differentiating between bacteria and viruses. This study pointed out how antibiotic administration might be decided through a blood test.
Antibiotics are efficient in combating bacteria-born diseases, leaving viruses alone. If a patient has been infected with a virus but the doctor thinks his symptoms stem from bacterial infection, using antibiotics is not beneficial. It can even lead to an increase in bacterial antibiotic resistance if it isn’t administered properly.
The main illnesses that get treated with the use of antibiotics are the ones affecting the respiratory system. Over 75% of doctor visits are based on breathing problems, cold or the flu. The issue that this phenomenon creates is the fact that some of these illnesses are in fact caused by a viral infection, instead of a bacterial one.
Doctors might prescribe an antibiotic, due to either their belief that the disease is caused by a bacteria or they just want to be safe in the case of a viral infection. Patients also tend to urge doctors to prescribe antibiotics because they might think that antibiotics are the end-all cure-all treatments.
The study itself was based on analyzing gene patterns inside the patient’s blood. Depending on the type of infection, be it fungal, bacterial or viral, genes activate and deactivate in different ways. In order to test this method’s accuracy, the research team applied their finding on 273 people with respiratory problems and a control group of 44 healthy individuals.
The blood test had an accuracy of 87% when differentiating between viral and bacterial infections. Even if the test is still limited, requiring further clinical trials in order to prove its effectiveness, its accuracy is significantly higher when compared to regular tests’ 75%. The traditional method of distinguishing between bacterial and viral infections is based on inflammation analysis.
The research team has stated that they want to make this test as affordable as possible. In order to prove that antibiotic administration might be decided through a blood test, the next clinical trials will be conducted on a much larger scale. The extended factors which will be taken into account will be ethnicity, age and type of infection, including people with other diseases instead of focusing only on respiratory problems.