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saliva tests

Tuberculosis in saliva

Researchers at the University of Washington (United States) and the University of Cape Town (South Africa) have developed an alternative, less invasive, and safer method for diagnosing tuberculosis.  In a study published in Scientific Reports (March 2, 2015), they investigated whether cells or DNA of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium most commonly responsible for the disease, would accumulate in the oral mucosa of infected individuals.  To that end, they collected saliva samples from 40 volunteers – 20 healthy individuals, for control purposes, and 20 infected patients.  The researchers detected the bacteria in saliva samples from 18 of the 20 tuberculosis patients, while healthy people showed no sign of the microorganism.  According to the authors, detecting tuberculosis through saliva tests could be a simple solution for diagnosing the disease, a process that is currently based on pulmonary sputum analysis.  Collecting sputum from patients requires them to cough, often putting healthcare professionals at risk of infection.  Tuberculosis is still a serious problem for public healthcare, particularly in poorer countries.  In 2014, more than 67,000 cases of the disease were reported in Brazil.

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