It can be frustrating for parents to go to the trouble of bringing a sick child to see the doctor, only to leave with a vague diagnosis of “some virus” and no prescription to help the child get better faster. Thankfully, specific diagnosis of viruses is improving rapidly.
The May 2002 issue of the Archives of Disease in Childhood featured a study of simple nasal swabs to identify viruses. (The older technique of high nasal/throat swabs is uncomfortable). With this less intrusive method, viruses such as influenza and RSV were detected quickly, easily, and accurately.
I hope tests such as this become commonplace in doctors’ offices, and that a broader variety of diagnostic tests soon becomes available. Accurate diagnosis will decrease the overuse of antibiotics; accelerate the development of new treatments; and help parents know exactly what they are dealing with in caring for their sick children.