It's terrifying to think about an infection that can take hold so quickly and cause serious damage - any progress in this area leading to quicker diagnosis and quicker treatment should be welcomed.
Meningitis can kill in hours yet the current way to positively identify the infection takes about two days. UK researchers say the new test that the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children will use gives results in under 60 minutes. This should let doctors treat fast and accurately, rather than "just in case". Speedy treatment is vital because the infection can quickly overwhelm the body, and symptoms may not be obvious until it is dangerously advanced. At the moment, doctors rely on clinical judgement to decide whether antibiotics are urgently needed. They err on the side of caution, which means some patients are given treatment they don't need. However, on rare occasions cases can be missed, which is where a rapid "Lamp" (Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification) test on blood, spinal fluid or nasal swab samples could help.