A new medical breakthrough for diagnosing meningitis has been hailed as hugely significant in the battle against the disease.
Currently, tests to see if your child has meningococcal disease, which can develop into meningitis and blood poisoning, can take up to 48 hours.
But now researchers in Belfast have found a way to diagnose potential cases of meningitis in less than 60 minutes.
Scientists said it could prevent children with the illness being wrongly sent home or treated unnecessarily. It can also potentially save dozens of lives every single year.
The Times reports that the method, developed at Queen's University Belfast and the Belfast Trust, found that using the LAMP test means children are given antibiotics straight away. The LAMP test (Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification) was proved to be as efficient as the standard test in “returning accurate diagnosis but in a fraction of the time”.
Speaking to Belfast Live, Professor Mike Shields, Clinical Professor at Queen’s University Belfast and Consultant Paediatrician at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children said the breakthrough is a game changer:
“If we suspect a child may have meningococcal septicaemia, we will administer antibiotic treatment straight away. If we wait a few days for the test results to confirm, it may be too late and we risk losing the child. With this new diagnostic tool, we will be able to administer antibiotic treatment straight away. If we wait a few days for the test results to confirm, it may be too late and we risk losing the child.”
Further research is now required to demonstrate the practicality of testing being undertaken by a clinician in a hospital environment and once that is complete, it is hoped this test can be rolled out to hospitals nationwide.