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Latest strides: Tackling strep with speed

A new test for strep throat is being evaluated at BC Children's

Strep throat is challenging for many kids. Along with symptoms like throat pain and trouble swallowing, a small percentage of kids with the illness can also develop serious complications, such as heart valve disease or kidney inflammation. 

Because of this, strep throat is the only sore throat condition requiring antibiotic treatment. Until now, the gold standard of using a throat culture swab to diagnose strep throat has required a three-day wait for results. Even with other types of tests claiming faster diagnoses, results still need to be confirmed with a culture swab. 

But now, a new molecular test is being evaluated at BC Children’s Hospital that provides a diagnosis within minutes, without needing confirmation from another test. The results are just as precise—if not more so—than the traditional  culture swab. 

Because the test would provide an answer even before an appointment ends, it could help reduce overuse of antibiotics while still ensuring appropriate treatment. 

That’s exactly what Drs. Quynh Doan and David Goldfarb, co-investigators at BC Children’s, and their team are on a mission to find out through their research. 

“The potential impact of this test is huge for families. For one, they will have assurance of what is affecting their child’s symptoms and get a head start on appropriate treatment,” Dr. Doan explained. “Secondly, this test could significantly impact how we use antibiotics, and curb the effects on resistance growth.” 

While research initiatives within the hospital's Ledcor Children's Emergency are temporarily halted to ensure all clinical resources are available for the care of kids in light of COVID-19, the goal is to cross the finish line strongly once research activities resume.

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