COLUMBIA, MO. — Veterinary researchers at the University of Missouri (MU) believe they have found a way to speed up the diagnosis of infections in dogs and cats.
"Infections can be difficult to diagnose, and many veterinarians have to send samples to a lab and wait three days or more as the lab attempts to grow a culture," says Dr. Amy DeClue, assistant professor of veterinary internal medicine in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. "Meanwhile, the infection continues to spread each day that veterinarians wait on lab results, which is detrimental to the patient. In extreme infections, called sepsis, more than half of patients die. My group has been evaluating different blood biomarkers that could give a quick and accurate indication of infection, and we believe we've found a biomarker that will only require a simple blood test."
Faster diagnosis: Amy DeClue (right) and Kara Osterbur (left) perform an initial evaluation of a dog at University of Missouri Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital Intensive Care Unit.
The research team found that by measuring the amount of the blood biomarker N-terminal portion of pro C-type natriuretic peptide (NT-pCNP) can indicate infection in animals, as well as humans. She hopes that a collaborative effort with the Veterinary Diagnostics Institute will result in the development of a portable test that veterinarians could use to quickly test patients for infection.
DeClue says the discovery could lead to more effective treatment of infections and a decreased need for antibiotics.
"In animal and human medicine, one goal is to reduce the amount of antibiotics used in treatment to reduce bacterial resistance to antibiotics," DeClue says. "If successful, future tests could help veterinarians tailor treatment to the specific problem and reduce antibiotic use."
DeClue published several papers recently on the research, including "Evaluation of Serum NT-pCNP as a Diagnostic and Prognostic Biomarker for Sepsis in Dogs" in the May-June 2011 issue of the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine and "Plasma Nitrate/Nitrite Concentrations in Dogs with Naturally Developing Sepsis and Non-infectious Forms of the Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome" in the November 2011 issue of Veterinary Record. Co-authors include Kara Osterbur, an emergency and critical-care resident in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine.