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Bacterial or Viral?

September 14, 2011

A quick immune system test can tell a viral infection from a bacterial one.



When you’ve got a bug, doctors want to know if it’s bacterial or viral.  Now, Israeli scientists have developed a way to find out in just a few hours.  Doctoral student Daria Prilutsky of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev spearheaded the project.   She says viral and bacterial infections trigger different immune responses.  Her team could tell the difference using luminol, a glowing chemical used to find blood at crime scenes.

DARIA PRILUTSKY: (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)
For example, if we look at viral infections we can see more extracellular light, that is produced in the cells, then compared to bacterial infections.


It’s hoped the technique will help doctors treat bacterial infections promptly, knowing they’re not wasting antibiotics on viruses, or needlessly contributing to antibiotic resistance.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.