Belfast Telegraph

QUB develops life-saving meningitis test

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 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.

Named the ‘loop mediated isothermal amplification’, 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: “Speedy identification of the cause of infection can enable doctors to make life-saving decisions about the treatment of patients.

“There is no other rapid test that can confirm the diagnosis in such a short time. The current tests are expensive and take up to two days to obtain.

“If we have the results within an hour we will be able to start the appropriate course of treatment right away.”

He added: “Parents often use the ‘tumbler test’ on their children’s bodies, but the non-blanching rash that is associated with a positive outcome of this test is a late sign and is not always present in children who have meningitis.”

Early detection could also improve outcomes for meningitis patients who are often left with life-altering conditions such as deafness and cerebral palsy.

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