- Scientists analysed volatile organic compounds (VOCs) given off by two common bugs that infect lungs: Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus;
- Mice infected with the bacteria had their breath sampled after 24 hours;
- The test could tell the species of bacteria apart and also identified two strains of one of the bugs
Results are published in the Journal of Breath Research.
Dr Jane Hill, one of the US scientists from the University of Vermont, said:
Traditional methods employed to diagnose bacterial infections of the lung require the collection of a sample that is then used to grow bacteria.
The isolated colony of bacteria is then biochemically tested to classify it and to see how resistant it is to antibiotics.
This whole process can take days for some of the common bacteria and even weeks for the causative agent for tuberculosis.
Breath analysis would reduce the time-to-diagnosis to just minutes.
A simple breath test could be used to diagnose lung infections such as TB by identifying bacterial "fingerprints", scientists have said.
Researchers from the University of Vermont distinguished between different types and strains of bacteria by testing the breath of mice.
A scaled up version of the technique could reduce the time it takes to diagnose lung infections in humans from days and weeks to just minutes, it is claimed.