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Now, Blood Test Can Detect Bacteria/Virus Causing Septicemia in Seven Hours

Now, a blood test can detect the exact bacteria or virus that has caused septicemia — the most common life threatening blood infection — in a patient.

What's even better, the test will take only seven hours instead of four days at present.

The same test will also be able to tell doctors which antibiotics the organism is resistant to, saving precious time and increasing the patient's chances of survival. Scientists from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad have discovered a DNA-based diagnostic tool that can identify all 27 organisms that causes septicemia — an infection that leads to a dangerous build-up of bacteria in bloodstream.

Septicemia that progresses to septic shock has a death rate as high as 50%, depending on the type of organism involved.

CCMB director Mohan Rao said the Centre has transferred the technology to a private medical devices company to produce the diagnostic tool.

Rao said the project to develop the rapid diagnostic tool for septicemia was part of CSIR's New Millennium Technology Leadership Initiative. The CCMB team has been working on developing this tool for over three years.

"It is of vital importance to know which organism has actually caused septicemia in the patient so that the appropriate drugs can be administered. Till now, detecting the bacteria or virus took a long time as one needed to conduct a culture test. The new diagnostic tool has two different chips — one can detect the causative organism of septicemia in just seven hours instead of days and the other can gauge which drugs the organism is resistant to. At present the diagnostic chip is made of plastic. We are working on creating a similar paper based microfluidic chip," Dr Rao said.

Dr Rao added, "The tool can detect all known bacteria or viruses known to cause septicemia and are expected to be available in the market soon. We recently transferred the technology to a diagnostics company in Bangalore. The test is expected to cost around Rs 10,000. However, the price is expected to dip once advances are made to the tool."

The most common areas of infection that lead to septicemia include the abdomen, lungs, urinary tract, bone (osteomyelitis), central nervous system (meningitis) and heart (endocarditis).

With septicemia, the initial symptoms include accelerated pulse, rapid breathing, chills and high fevers that come on suddenly. These may lead to shock and a sudden decrease in blood pressure, and confusion or other mental changes.

Red spots may occur on the skin as a result of clotting problems in the blood.

Treatment of septicemia requires hospitalization, where intravenous fluids and antibiotics are given, along with supplemental oxygen.

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