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Simple finger prick blood test could help detect serious infections

Serious infections in children can now be detected very quickly by GPs using a simple decision rule and a finger prick blood test, according to a new study.
Finger prick test. Picture: iStock

Serious infections in children can now be detected very quickly by GPs using a simple decision rule and a finger prick blood test, according to a new study.

A clinical team at KU Leuven the University of Leuven in Belgium working with Ghent University and the University of Oxford concluded the test meant seriously ill children would not have to wait for hospital diagnosis a delay that could prove fatal.

The symptoms of serious infections such as meningitis and pneumonia may resemble common viral infections in the early stages.

Lead author Dr Jan Verbakel commented: As a result, serious infections tend to stay off the general practitioners radar for too long. We asked ourselves how rapid diagnostic tests might help solve this problem.

The one-year study involved more than 3,100 sick children in Flanders

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Serious infections in children can now be detected very quickly by GPs using a simple decision rule and a finger prick blood test, according to a new study.

finger prick text
Finger prick test. Picture: iStock

A clinical team at KU Leuven – the University of Leuven in Belgium – working with Ghent University and the University of Oxford concluded the test meant seriously ill children would not have to wait for hospital diagnosis – a delay that could prove fatal.

The symptoms of serious infections such as meningitis and pneumonia may resemble common viral infections in the early stages.

Lead author Dr Jan Verbakel commented: ‘As a result, serious infections tend to stay off the general practitioner’s radar for too long. We asked ourselves how rapid diagnostic tests might help solve this problem.’

The one-year study involved more than 3,100 sick children in Flanders in northern Belgium.

Changing tests

Testing had not been common among GPs as it had been complex, expensive, and it took a few days for lab results to come in. But the arrival of point-of-care tests has changed this.

The tests look at levels of the C-reactive protein in a drop of blood as the concentration of the protein increases in response to a pathogen.

Dr Verbakel added: ‘Our study showed that with a point-of-care CRP test all serious infections were detected during the first visit to the general practitioner.’


Verbakel J, Lemiengre M, De Burghgraeve T et al (2016) Should all acutely ill children in primary care be tested with point-of-care CRP: a cluster randomised trial. BMC Medicine. doi: 10.1186/s12916-016-0679-2

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