Meningitis test to speed diagnosis

Bacterial meningitis could be quicker to diagnose following the development of a model by the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

HPA model can detect if meningitis is bacterial or viral faster (Photograph: SPL)
HPA model can detect if meningitis is bacterial or viral faster (Photograph: SPL)

The model can predict whether a suspected case of meningitis is bacterial or viral in origin.

Current diagnosis relies on analysis of spinal fluid obtained via a lumbar puncture procedure.

This is the gold standard for confirming cause, but is difficult to carry out and interpret in some patients.

HPA chief executive Justin McCracken said swift diagnosis was crucial to protect patients and their close contacts.

At the HPA conference this week, researchers presented results of a system based on 385 confirmed cases of meningitis over a 12 month period.

Their test helps to differentiate bacterial from viral meningitis using early laboratory tests, and can predict the likelihood of bacterial meningitis.

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