Potential New Test for Urinary Tract Infections

Product offers results in five minutes for faster treatment

Testing for and treating urinary tract infections can be a challenge for veterinarians. First, an infection must be identified and then the ideal therapy has to be determined.

Usually, a urine sample is sent to an outside laboratory for a “culture and sensitivity,” which is a test to see if bacteria are present, and if so, which antibiotics would be best to treat the infection with. Urine culture results are usually available in one to three days. Many urinary tract bacteria already show resistance to various antibiotics, making it difficult to determine the best treatment, although most veterinarians will make an early decision to get your cat started on a medication while awaiting the results of this test.

A company in England is working with veterinarians and specialists at the University of Tennessee on a product called “U Treat,” reports vetsurgeon.org. Using a urine sample, this test can identify a urinary tract infection in five minutes. Subsequent testing can then identify which antibiotics can be best to treat the infection.

Bioluminescence techniques are used to remove host cell adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an energy-carrying molecule, and then to lyse (break open) bacterial cell walls to release bacterial ATP. The luminometer can then guide your veterinarian to the ideal antibiotic.

The susceptibility test (to determine the best antibiotic choice) takes about 45 minutes, so diagnosis and treatment can be carried out in about an hour. This is much faster than having to send a urine specimen out for culture and sensitivity testing at a remote laboratory.

Clinical testing of this system was performed on dogs and cats at the University of Tennessee and overseen by Dr. David Bemis, who earned his PhD at Cornell University. The U Treat system was both highly specific and highly sensitive, meaning that there were few false positives and negative results.

Rapidly identifying an effective antibiotic therapy reduces the likelihood of inducing bacterial resistance to antibiotics and provides faster relief to your pet.