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New meningitis test 'could save lives'
(EBC; August 30, 2017) - A hospital A&E department in Northern Ireland is to start using a new, rapid test for meningitis that should speed up diagnosis and save lives.
Meningitis can kill in hours yet the current way to positively identify the infection takes about two days.
UK researchers say the new test that the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children will use gives results in under 60 minutes.
This should let doctors treat fast and accurately, rather than "just in case".
Speedy treatment is vital because the infection can quickly overwhelm the body, and symptoms may not be obvious until it is dangerously advanced.
At the moment, doctors rely on clinical judgement to decide whether antibiotics are urgently needed.
They err on the side of caution, which means some patients are given treatment they don't need.
However, on rare occasions cases can be missed, which is where a rapid "Lamp" (Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification) test on blood, spinal fluid or nasal swab samples could help.
Anyone can get meningitis, but it is more common in babies, children and teenagers or young adults.