Researchers from Duke Health in Durham, N.C., said they’ve identified a group of proteins that could be used to tell if an infection is caused by a virus, which triggers cold or flu.
Antibiotics can only fight bacterial infections, not viral illnesses.
When detected in specific quantities in the mucus of runny noses and inflamed throats, the proteins targeted in the new study were 86% accurate in confirming a viral infection, the scientists said.
“In the past, science has focused on identifying the pathogen someone is infected with in the blood or other sample, said study lead author Thomas Burke. He’s director of technology advancement and diagnostics at Duke. “Our approach flips the paradigm of how we look for infection. Instead of looking for the pathogen, we study the individual’s response to that pathogen,” Burke said in a health system news release.
The researchers said their findings could lead to quick, noninvasive tests for upper respiratory infections that could be easily done in a doctor’s office. Being able to quickly diagnose a viral infection could help limit the unnecessary use of antibiotics, helping to prevent the rise of antibiotic resistance, the researchers said.
“The protein targets offer a faster, more cost-effective model for rapid screening and diagnoses of viral infections,” said Dr. Christopher Woods, a senior author of the study. He’s associate director of applied genomics.
The study was published recently in EBioMedicine.
I currently use the QA protocol to determine whether an infection is viral or bacterial. It’s a question that needs to be answered every day in clinical practice.
Until this test becomes available, you can use the same paradigm – study the patient not the pathogen. If the mucus is clear, that indicates a viral infection. Yellow, green or brown mucus is more likely bacterial. Ninety percent of upper respiratory infections are viral, but only 50% of infections “moving into the chest” are viral. A bacterial infection will tend to increase the neutrophils and WBCs on a CBC. While the viral infection will increase the lymphocytes and eventually lower the WBCs.
The Bottom Line:
It takes your body 5 days to produce antibodies against a new infection, either viral or bacterial. However, if you have had previous exposure, the antibody response is much faster and you recover very quickly. I recommend treating with colloidal silver, Andrographis and Goldenseal for the first 5 days. A Netti pot is a good delivery system for the sinus cavities. After 5 days, if you are not on the road to recovery, see you physician for further advice and testing.
I’m looking forward to having this protein test in my office as confirmation. It will be interesting to see how accurate the QA protocol is in evaluating acute infections. The accuracy for metabolic syndrome is better than 90%.
Source: February 24, 2017 National Institutes of Health