New TB test gives speedier diagnosis

From Times wire reports

A new tuberculosis test is faster and less expensive than conventional TB tests and lets doctors know much sooner if someone with the infectious disease is resistant to standard drugs, a study has found.

Typically it takes months for doctors in many countries to discover that a TB strain is resistant to a drug with conventional tests -- a drawback that is partly responsible for the 5,000 TB deaths that occur worldwide every day.

But a study published in the Oct. 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine shows that the risk of TB can be reduced, especially varieties unaffected by drugs now used as the first line of defense against the disease.

The new test, call MODS for microscopic-observation drug-susceptibility, usually made a diagnosis in just seven days, compared with 13 days for one conventional test and 26 days for another.