- A team of researchers from Pretoria Leicester in the UK have made an incredible invention
- It is a 3D insert that can be placed in face masks to detect TB
- This method can revolutionise the diagnosis and containment of infections
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The University of Pretoria has partnered with the University of Leicester in England to revolutionise the way way tuberculosis (TB) is detected. This is through the invention of a 3D-printed insert in a normal face mask. This new detection method has the potential to pick up millions of missed infections.
The insert is able to catch and retain live tuberculosis bacteria after infected people have been wearing it for 30 minutes. The masks provide rapid detection andreduce the need for invasive investigation methods.
TB causes more deaths due to infection than any other microbe and- according to the World Health Organization - 301 000 people in South Africa fell ill with TB in 2018. According to researchers at UP, this innovation has the potential to become a global solution for easier detection methods.
One of the most common symptoms of the disease is a persistent cough with phlegm. Normal methods of diagnosis are a blood test, chest x-ray and sputum sample. But by the time these symptoms appear, the infection has been present for months in the body and likely has spread to others.
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UP researchers, together with a team from Leicester, conducted an experiment, sampling 24 people with confirmed TB over a 24-hour period. They discovered that a cough may not be required to spread the infection. Additionally, in a trial of 20 patients with TB symptoms, four patients with negative sputum tested positive with the mask, and the presence of TB was only detected in their sputum six weeks later.
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