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Using molecular biology, the new Xpert EV test can help distinguish viral and bacterial meningitis within 21-2 hours, compared with a possible 7-day wait for standard diagnostic testing. The test detects infection in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) caused by the Enterovirus class of viruses, which is responsible for about 90% of all viral meningitis cases. A CSF sample is put into a single-use cartridge and loaded into a device that conducts all necessary lab procedures.


Studies in six facilities involving 255 patient samples confirmed a high rate of accuracy. Ninety-six percent of patients who tested positive for viral meningitis with the Xpert EV test did indeed have viral meningitis; 97% of those testing negative didn't have viral meningitis.


Currently, many patients with viral meningitis receive antibiotics because care providers can't take the chance that the patient has bacterial meningitis, which can be rapidly fatal. The new test should help providers manage patients correctly without unneeded antibiotics. For more information, visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Web site at and search for Xpert EV.