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Medical News and Perspectives
July 7, 2004

Rapid Anthrax Test Approved

JAMA. 2004;292(1):30. doi:10.1001/jama.292.1.30

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a rapid blood test to help confirm a diagnosis of anthrax, federal health officials reported in June. The test, which detects antibodies to a component of the deadly toxin produced by Bacillus anthracis, can be completed in less than 1 hour, compared with about 4 hours for other available antibody testing methods.

In 2001, when letters containing anthrax spores caused illness in 22 people, leading to 5 deaths, few facilities other than laboratories maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Army had the ability to test blood for anti-anthrax antibodies. The test, developed by Immunetics, Inc, Boston, with funding and cooperation from the CDC, will soon be available for use in state and private laboratories.

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