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A technique for the early detection of a deadly superbug as been discovered by a team of UK-led scientists.
A research team, led by the University of Sunderland, has announced that it has found a way of detecting the potentially fatal bacterium pseudomonas aeruginosa within 24 to 48 hours of infection.
Patients with cystic fibrosis are particularly susceptible to the infection, but patients with immune defects are also at risk, such as those with Aids, cancer or severe burns.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA, pseudomonas aeruginosa accounts for 10.1% of all hospital infections.
Professor Paul Groundwater, who led the research, said: “This superbug has a massive impact on people who are immunocompromised, for example patients with severe burns, cancer and AIDS.
“It is calculated that 28% of people who have undergone transplant surgery are infected by pseudomonas aeruginosa.
“The bacteria infect the fluid on the lungs of cystic fibrosis sufferers. It also infects patients in intensive care units. It is really difficult to treat, and hospital staff need to know very quickly.”
Prof Groundwater explained that with their new diagnostic method, a non-coloured compound reacts with an enzyme in pseudomonas aeruginosa, which then produces a very distinctive purple colour to indicate the presence of the bacteria.
He said the technique works on 99% of the strains of the superbug.
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