(MEDICALNEWSTODAY) — Bacteria that cause lung infections like tuberculosis (TB) release volatile organic compounds that end up in exhaled breath. Now scientists have identified the unique “chemical fingerprints” given off by different bacteria in the lungs in a way that potentially allows for the diagnosis of such lung infections via a quick and simple breath test.

The researchers, from the University of Vermont in the US, write about their findings in the 10 January issue of the online Journal of Breath Research.

The study was conducted on mice, but if it can be repeated in humans, then the hope is that a simple breath test could reduce the time taken to diagnose lung infections from days and weeks to minutes.

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