Why antibiotics aren't always the answer - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Why antibiotics aren't always the answer

Madison (WKOW) -- A new test may be able to put an end to antibiotic superbugs.

  It's a test that's as common as the common cold.

  It's that time of year:  cold and flu season, when many of us turn to a doctor for symptom relief.

  But experts say you should be careful what you wish for.

  Doctor Devang Doshi said, "many, many patients still do believe that antibiotics treat the common cold or viral infections. Often times they come in asking for antibiotics."

  Antibiotics only kill bacterial infections.

  They're useless against viruses and misusing them creates resistant superbugs.

  Doctor Doshi said, "if we could limit the use, i think we'd be better off."

  That's the goal of the x-tag respiratory virus panel, or RVP:  a test that can identify, within hours, the viruses that cause the most common respiratory infections.

  Doctor Mark Kolins said, "by doing it this rapidly, we're able to get the patient on the proper therapy. If it indeed is a viral infection, we can eliminate using antibiotics and get the patient, if appropriate, on appropriate anti-viral therapy."

  First doctors swab the patient's nose or throat.

  In the lab, technicians extract and process the speciman's DNA.

  Then, using molecular technology, the RVP test analyzes and labels the information.

  If it is a virus causing the problem, a special laser pinpoints the patient's specific type.

  Devang Doshi added, "so, having the ability of identifying the pathogen and showing them it is truly, in fact a virus, would hopefully limit our use of antibiotics."

  And it would help take the 'super' out of superbug.

  Doctors say the new test may help stop outbreaks by identifying the type of respiratory infection spreading through the community.

  Labs that have the RVP test are typically those in larger academic hospitals.

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