In what’s believed to be a world first, scientists in India have developed a rapid test to determine if a person has silicosis.
The rapid silicosis test kit was developed by a team of scientists at the National Institute of Virology in collaboration with the National Institute for Occupational Health in Mumbai.
The kit works to detect levels of serum CC16 in the blood.
In a media story by the Times Of India, Dr Shyam Sundar Nandi from the Mumbai laboratory is quoted as saying, “India has a high burden of silicosis with an estimate of 1.25 crore patients at the moment.”
The rapid test kit is similar to a pregnancy test kit and detects levels of serum CC16 in a drop of blood.
“Based on the concentration of the serum, we can diagnose the patient with severe, mild disease or is likely to develop it in the near future,” said Dr Nandi.
It’s reported that the research work has been accepted in the medical journal Nature Scientific Reports.
What is silicosis?
Silicosis is a long-term lung disease caused by inhaling unsafe levels of silica dust.
People who work with certain materials may inhale very fine dust that contains silica. Once inside the lungs, the dust particles can scar the lungs. This scarring is known as silicosis.
There are three common types of silicosis. All affect you in the same way. However, the difference is how long it takes for problems to develop.
- chronic silicosis — exposure to silica dust for more than 10 years
- accelerated silicosis — exposure to silica dust for 3 to 10 years
- acute silicosis — develops within weeks or months of exposure to silica dust
What are the symptoms of silicosis?
The main symptoms of silicosis are shortness of breath after exercising, chest pain, a harsh, dry cough and tiredness. But in the early stages of silicosis, there may be no symptoms.
The symptoms become severe as the condition gets worse. Eventually, you might find simple activities such as walking or climbing stairs difficult. You might also have trouble sleeping and eating properly.
Silicosis can also increase the risk of getting other severe conditions such as tuberculosis (TB), chest infections, emphysema, kidney damage and lung cancer.
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