Measuring ethanol formed from arabinose by Escherichia coli and dimethyl disulphide formed from methionine by Proteus mirabilis is a rapid way of detecting these organisms in the urine. Ethanol and dimethyl disulphide are detected by head-space gas-liquid chromatography. Since sedimented organisms and not whole urine are used the method is not subject to interference from compounds within the urine. When it was tested on 122 samples of urine, 94 from patients with suspected urinary infection and 28 supposedly uninfected control specimens, the results correlated well with viable counts by a conventional bacteriological method. As well as being rapid (results available in four hours) the method is reliable, easy to use, and could be automated. It now requires extensive testing in a hospital laboratory.
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