How is a Viral Infection Diagnosed and Treated?
Viral infections can cause distinctive symptoms, like the telltale cough and congestion of a cold, or the headache and stiff neck due to viral meningitis. But it is difficult to diagnose a viral infection based on symptoms alone. That’s because many pathogens can cause similar, overlapping symptoms. That cough, for instance—is it due to COVID-19 or influenza? Or something else?
Laboratory testing is the only way to know with confidence which virus is causing troubling symptoms. Many diagnostic tests have been developed to detect the presence of viruses, viral antigens, or specific antibodies the body creates as it fights off a viral infection.
Testing for one virus at a time can be a slow, laborious process. Once one suspected virus is ruled out, the next likely virus must be tested. On the other hand, syndromic testing from BioFire enables labs to test for multiple viruses, and other potential pathogens, all in one, rapid test. The BioFire® FilmArray® Panels offer fast and accurate answers on a broad menu of potential pathogens, taking the guesswork out of infectious disease diagnostics.
For example, BioFire’s COVID-19 solutions target several viruses and bacteria that can cause respiratory illnesses, including SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), influenza viruses, several cold-causing viruses, and the bacteria responsible for whooping cough, among others.
Rapid answers on a broad menu of possible pathogens may enable physicians to put patients on appropriate therapy sooner. In the case of viral infections, that may mean simply treating symptoms (like fever) while the patient’s immune system works to fight the virus. Antibiotics are ineffective for treating viruses, and antiviral medications have only been developed to treat a few specific viruses.
Roughly 120 years after scientists first became aware of the presence of viruses, we are still learning about these miniscule particles. The next few decades will undoubtedly bring crucial advancements in our understanding of viruses and how to combat them.