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The World in Medicine
February 12, 2003

Affairs of the Heart

JAMA. 2003;289(6):691. doi:10.1001/jama.289.6.691-a

Researchers with the Pasteur Institute (in Paris, France and Antananarivo, Madagascar) and colleagues have developed a rapid diagnostic test for plague bacteria that could help control the disease in developing countries and perhaps speed detection and treatment of the infection during a bioterrorist attack (Lancet. 2003;361:211-216).

Prompt diagnosis and treatment of plague, which can be fatal within 24 hours of disease onset of the pneumonic form, is needed to reduce mortality and control its spread. But in most endemic areas, diagnosis is currently based on clinical symptoms, and confirmatory laboratory testing is often unavailable or unreliable.