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New early-warning test for meningitis could save lives

Published 17/08/2010

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust have developed a groundbreaking test for meningitis which could help save lives.

A rapid diagnostic test for the meningococcal bacteria that can produce results within an hour has been developed by scientists from Queen’s Centre for Infection and Immunity and the Trust.

The speed of this new test is a vital factor in the treatment of young children with meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia who become very ill over a short period.

Professor Mike Shields, of Queen’s University and the Belfast Trust, said: “The first symptoms of meningococcal infections are the same as a simple viral infection, making it difficult to diagnose in the early stages. With the development of a small piece of equipment, which resembles a portable home printer, a sample of blood or a secretion such as saliva, can be tested quickly by the machine. This produces a colour reading that determines if the patient has meningitis or not.”

Alongside saving lives, early detection can potentially improve outcomes for meningitis patients who are often left with life-altering conditions such as deafness and cerebral palsy.

The machine is now being trialled in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Belfast Telegraph

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