New gene tests for germs quickly reveal source of infections

Scientists have developed gene tests to help quickly determine what specific germs are causing infections so doctors can pick the best treatment.

Thousands of people die each year when germs causing pneumonia, sepsis and other infections can’t be found quickly enough.

The tests search blood or other fluids for bits of non-human DNA from viruses, bacteria, parasites or other bugs, and can reveal the cause of an infection much sooner than the several days or weeks it usually takes.

One such test helped doctors figure out the cause of neurological infections like meningitis and encephalitis in a study at eight hospitals around the country.

Results were published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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