Scientists have developed a technology for a new blood test that can quickly tell whether patients are infected with an antibiotic-resistant bacterium that’s become a global threat, thereby significantly improving treatment.

This “superbug” is called the Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or simply MRSA.

‘MSRA strikes at least 280,000 people in the United States alone every year. Almost 20,000 of those patients die. The cost of treating a single case often exceeds 20,000 dollars. Diagnosing MSRA infections quickly is important, so that treatment can begin immediately with the right antibiotic” explains Kent Voorhees from the Department of Chemistry and Geochemistry, Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo.

The MRSA/MSSA blood culture test uses paper strips to diagnose these infections so that treatment can begin within hours, rather than days. “We developed a test that can tell whether a patient has MRSA or an illness that could be more responsive to conventional treatments. The new test takes only five hours, whereas current methods can take up to three days. Every day and every hour matters when you deal with MRSA infections,” said Voorhees.

The study has been published in the American Chemical Society journal.

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