The December issue of Pathology in Practice considers an alternative approach to the diagnosis of acute respiratory tract infection, one in which a change in human immune response is the focus of detection, rather than the pathogen-specific approach.
The 2021/22 respiratory season is well under way, with more respiratory viruses circulating this year compared with the previous SARS-CoV-2-dominated season. Even before the onset of the current pandemic, acute respiratory tract infection (aRTI) was a significant burden on healthcare, being the most common reason for a GP appointment and most frequent reason for an antibiotic prescription.
Current diagnosis focuses on laboratory based pathogen detection, resulting in delayed diagnosis and empirical patient management. Detecting a change in host immune response is an alternative diagnostic approach that can be used to screen patients at the point of care to assess severity of infection, and avoid unnecessary antibiotics.
Healthcare practitioners have the potential to use this approach as a tool to aid diagnosis of acute respiratory tract infections, reduce diagnostic uncertainty and reassure those who do not require healthcare intervention, thereby reducing repeat visits and easing pressure on an already stretched healthcare system.
A PDF of the full article is available here to downloaded.