A rapid blood test to help distinguish between bacterial and other (predominantly viral) infections could substantially reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics for common infections, conclude authors of a study in this week’s issue of THE LANCET.
Lower respiratory tract infections are often treated with antibiotics-even though there is often no evidence of bacterial infection. Such inappropriate use of antibiotics is contributing to the increase of antibiotic-resistant bacteria with serious implications for public health. Blood concentrations of a calcitonin precursor protein known as procalcitonin are substantially raised during acute bacterial infection.
Beat Müller from University Hospital Basel, Switzerland, and colleagues assessed the effectiveness of a sensitive blood test to identify procalcitonin concentrations to guide antibiotic treatment among patients with lower respiratory-tract disease (eg, pneumonia, bronchitis).
Richard Lane | alfa
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