Finger-Prick, Blood Test for Ebola Takes Just Minutes

Friday, June 26, 2015

Public health officials may soon be able to screen patients for Ebola at border crossings and hospitals with a finger-prick blood test that takes mere minutes.

The development of the rapid diagnostic test, reported in The Lancet Thursday, represents a significant victory for scientists around the world who have been experimenting over the past year with all manner of vaccines, treatments and other ways of eradicating the virus.

Developing a way of confirming Ebola in a patient has been one of the top priorities. In the early stages the symptoms — chest pain, cough, nausea — can look like many other illnesses, making it very difficult for doctors to triage — to determine who should be quarantined and who to send home. It can often take days or longer for laboratory tests, the current standard, to return a positive or negative result.

“Delays like this result not only in the failure to diagnose and treat Ebola-infected patients, but also in individuals without Ebola being admitted to holding units where they may be subsequently infected with the virus,” explained Nira Pollak, an associate medical director of the infectious diseases diagnostic laboratory at Boston Children’s Hospital who is a co-author of the study.

Source: The Washington Post (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
infectious diseases