Bacteria are microscopic single-celled organisms. They play a vital role in human health but can also cause infectious diseases including respiratory tract infections. Rapid diagnostic testing improves the management of respiratory infections and guides appropriate antibiotic use.
Bacteria are microscopic single-celled organisms that can live inside or outside a body. Different bacteria play a vital role in human health – they live on our skin and in our bodies playing a role for example in digesting food. However, bacteria can also cause infectious diseases.1 Unlike viral infections, certain bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics2.
Bacteria can be divided into Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria have an extra outer membrane which makes it harder for antibiotics to penetrate through. Gram-negative bacteria are also more prone to developing resistance towards antibiotics.1
Bacteria causing respiratory tract infections
Bacteria can cause
several respiratory infections including for example pharyngitis,
pneumonia, and acute bronchitis. Rapid diagnostic testing improves the
management of respiratory infections and guides appropriate antibiotic
use. Avoiding unnecessary antibiotic use is important in combatting
Below are some examples of bacteria causing respiratory tract infections and products that can be used in their diagnostics.
S. pyogenes, also called Strep A or GAS, is a significant cause of pharyngitis. Streptococcal pharyngitis is often difficult to distinguish from viral infection3 and rapid tests offer fast and cost-effective way to detect Strep A infections accurately.
Legionella may cause a serious type of pneumonia. The bacteria can grow in freshwater systems and spread through small droplets. Less commonly people can get sick also by aspiration of drinking water containing Legionella.4 Rapid test detects the Legionella antigens in urine specimens.
M. pneumoniae is a bacterium that is causing usually mild but long-lasting infections of the respiratory system. The most common type of illness caused by M. pneumoniae is tracheobronchitis, but it can also cause pneumonia5. Mycoplasma rapid tests detect the M. pneumoniae immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibody in serum samples.
S. pneumoniae is often found in respiratory tract of healthy persons, especially the ones having school-aged children or persons in military settings6. Pneumonia, bacteremia and meningitis caused by S. pneumoniae most often occurs when predisposing condition exists.
- What’s the difference between bacteria and viruses? https://imb.uq.edu.au/article/2020/04/difference-between-bacteria-and-viruses Accessed: 8 December 2023
- Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Antibiotic Do’s & Don’ts. https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/do-and-dont.html Accessed: 14 December 2023
- Bisno AL, Gerber MA, Gwaltney JM Jr, Kaplan EL, Schwartz RH. Practise Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Group A Streptococcal Pharyngitis. CID 2002; 35(2); 113 - 125.
- Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About the Disease. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/about/index.html Accessed: 5 October 2023
- Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Signs and Symptoms. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/pneumonia/atypical/mycoplasma/about/signs-symptoms.html Accessed: 9 October 2023
- Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Streptococcus pneumoniae. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/pneumococcal/clinicians/streptococcus-pneumoniae.html Accessed: 9 October 2023