Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, recently created a diagnostic test that rapidly detects enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), which is a respiratory virus.
Last year, the virus caused strangely severe illnesses among children. The outbreak raised infections at a remarkable rate, amounting to more than 1,000 confirmed cases as well as 14 deaths across the U.S.
"Commercial tests for respiratory viral infections typically don't distinguish between rhinoviruses, which cause the common cold, and enteroviruses, and within each of those groups there are many different types," Dr. Gregory A. Storch, senior author, said.
The new test has proven effective in identifying a variety of EV-D68 strains and decreasing the amount of time that is needed to detect these strains.
"Having a tool to identify which cases of respiratory illness are actually EV-D68 is an advantage for public health," Storch said. "These kinds of tests help treatment decisions because it is important to know that the patient doesn't have influenza or another disease that might require a specific treatment. It's also important in a hospital for preventing infections because doctors take patients with one particular virus and keep them apart from patients infected with other infectious agents."