Dark Fields and Diagnostic Disks
New devices for detecting tuberculosis may speed up diagnosis and improve treatment
Michael Schubert |
Tuberculosis (TB) is the eighth most common cause of death in low- and middle-income countries (1) and a challenging disease on many levels. To begin with, it’s difficult to diagnose – symptoms like fever, weight loss and coughing apply to a wide range of illnesses, and many tests are inconclusive or subject to a high percentage of false positive and negative results, especially in patients with additional health problems. To reach a conclusion, doctors require a medical history, a physical examination, and a variety of tests, including skin tests, chest X-rays, sputum smears and microbiological cultures. Even after diagnosis, the battle isn’t over; treatment is long, arduous, and side effects are common – and antibiotic resistance compounds these problems. But the longer patients go undiagnosed, the worse the odds of survival become – and it is more likely that they will spread the disease to others.
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