Pneumonia ... Quick New Urine Test

It is often very difficult to distinguish between a respiratory infection that is caused by a virus and one which is caused by a bacteria. This is an important distinction because a viral infection will not respond to the commonly used antibiotics whereas a bacterial infection usually will.

On August 30, 1999 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (the FDA) cleared for marketing a simple, quick, first-of-a-kind urine test for detecting Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae), one of the bacteria that is a leading cause of pneumonia.

The laboratory test, made by Binax, Inc., of Portland, Maine, provides results in 15 minutes. The new test is meant to be used after consideration of a patient's symptoms. The aim of the test is to rule in S. pneumoniae as the probable cause of the pneumonia. The test results can enable a probable diagnosis to be made quicker so treatment can be started sooner with the appropriate antibiotics to combat the S. pneumoniae.

To do the test, a swab is dipped into a urine specimen, removed and inserted into a special test device. The test detects S. pneumoniae antigen in the urine of infected patients within 15 minutes. A positive result indicates that the patient most likely has pneumococcal pneumonia. Results should be confirmed with lab culture of the bacteria.