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Tue, Jan 26

Do you need antibiotics?

A new blood test is in the works that could help doctors tell if a patient with a respiratory illness is suffering from a virus or a bacterial infection, or even a non-infectious condition with similar symptoms. The test could help cut back on the serious problem of antibiotic overuse, say the scientists who developed it.

Instead of trying to test patients for the specific infection causing their illness — strep or the flu, for example — researchers at Duke Health took a different approach. They came up with a way to discern what was causing an illness by detecting gene expression changes in a patient. In other words, they looked to a person’s response to the illness instead of the illness itself, and found that bacteria and viruses each elicit unique immune responses in humans.

Read more or watch video of this story from CBS.