Now, a faster test to differentiate malaria, dengue

Vector-borne disease can now be diagnosed within an hour's time

Now, a faster test to differentiate malaria, dengue

Threat of dengue, malaria and viral fevers, which looms large with the onset of monsoon, will be battled more effectively this season in the national capital as the vector-borne diseases can now be diagnosed within an hour’s time and at a much lesser cost.

At present, patients go through eight different tests which take two to three days.
Researchers at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital have developed an economical, accurate and rapid analyser that identifies and differentiates these three diseases.

“Because of the similarity in symptoms such as high-grade fever, loss of appetite and chills, doctors are under pressure to distinguish malaria from dengue and the test results take anywhere between 48-72 hours,” said Dr Manorama Bhargava of department of hematology at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

The battery of diagnostic tests and taking preventive antibiotics for all the three groups till a specific diagnosis is made leads to escalation of treatment costs and consumption of unnecessary antibiotics.

Led by Bhargava, researchers have developed LH750 hematology analysers that can identify malaria and dengue and distinguish them from other viral illnesses in an hour’s time.

Till now, eight common tests costing around Rs 5,000 are being conducted and the actual treatment starts only after all the results come in. However, now the diagnosis can be done for a mere Rs 200.

Those detected with malaria and dengue will have to undergo two specific tests each costing another Rs 2,000. Those detected with viral fever will be spared the numerous tests and unnecessary monetary burden.

Bhargava said the specific medication for the diagnosed diseases can commence soon after the two tests without having to take antibiotics in advance. She will soon propose to feed the research conclusions into laboratory information system so that it is available at all hospitals. As of now, this single test is available only at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

The study was carried out between April 2010 to March 2011 on a total of 324 samples to gather data on dengue, malaria as well as patients with non-specific viral illnesses.
Results of the study have been published in International Journal of Laboratory Hematology which is the official journal of the International Society for Laboratory Hematology.

Common tests

* Complete blood count.
* Peripheral blood smear for malarial parasite.
* Malaria antigen
* Blood culture
* NSI antigen for dengue
* Dengue serology.
* Urine routine and microbiology.
* Chest X-ray PA view.

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