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Scientists working in Madagascar have developed a test that can diagnose bubonic and pneumonic plague in just 15 minutes, compared to current tests that take weeks to yield results.

Although almost eradicated in the developed world, bubonic and pneumonic plague infect thousands of people a year in developing countries, mainly in Africa. Early detection of the diseases is crucial. For example, pneumonic plague is fatal unless treated within 24 hours.

The new test, which could dramatically reduce the number of cases of the diseases, is described in this week's issue of The Lancet. It works by using a dipstick to detect a bacterial antigen in people's sputum.

Source: New Scientist

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