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New Test Can Detect Skin Infections in Less Than an Hour

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new test that can detect skin infections, including antibiotic-resistant infections such as the so-called "superbug" MRSA, in less than an hour, the test's manufacturer said Monday.

 

Sunnyvale, CA-based Cepheid said its Xpert test should help doctors to quickly determine which antibiotic would be most effective in treating the infections.

MRSA, or methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, is becoming more prevalent in hospitals, long-term care facilities and community settings. Existing tests for the bacterium can take up to three days, extending hospital stays and costing more money, the Associated Press reported. "The ability to detect MRSA or SA (Staphylococcus aureus) in less than one hour, versus two to three days with current culture methods, will enable clinicians to make real-time decisions as to the best course of treatment or management," Cepheid chief executive John Bishop said in a news release.

Also in the release, Cepheid said the Institute of Healthcare Improvement reported that about 800,000 surgeries are complicated by infections annually, with a $9.5 billion cost to the U.S. health care system. According to a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, the increased length of stay following a MRSA infection is 18 days.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about MRSA.

HealthDay News, September 29, 2008

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