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  • 1 February 2018 to 30 August 2018
  • Project No: 387
  • Funding round: FR 14

This study aims to analyse 654 throat swabs that have already been collected from patients presenting with acute cough.

Coughs are one of the most common reasons people that attend their GP. Coughs can be caused by bacteria, which respond to antibiotics. However, the majority are caused by viruses, which do not. Yet, most people who see their GP with a cough receive an antibiotic prescription. This has two important effects: (1) patients are put at risk from the side effects of the antibiotic, and (2) the risk of antibiotic resistance increases.

GPs cannot be sure what type of infection is causing a cough and therefore cannot predict the course of the illness. Therefore, they frequently prescribe antibiotics for these patients to ‘be on the safe side’.

We are interested in which type of infection causes patients’ coughs, and whether different infections cause (1) different signs or symptoms and (2) different lengths of illness.

This study was designed to identify the infections causing patients to visit their GP with a cough.

The samples for the study have already been collected. Six hundred and fifty four patients were recruited when they presented to their doctor with a new cough. Their symptoms and signs were recorded and a throat swab was collected. Patients were also given a thermometer to record their temperature daily and asked to complete a symptom diary for 7 days.

The study was set up in collaboration with a technology company which was to analyse the samples. However due to technical problems with their new test, the company withdrew from the project. Therefore, although the patients have been recruited and provided throat swabs, there is no funding to analyse the samples. This proposal would allow analysis of these samples and correlate the results with the clinical information already collected.