A groundbreaking test for meningitis and septicaemia, which can tell if a child has the deadly diseases within an hour, has been developed by researchers.
The speed of the new test is vital because the first symptoms of meningitis are similar to a viral infection and therefore difficult to diagnose at an early stage.
However, youngsters with the bacterial infection can rapidly deteriorate and die within hours.
Researchers at Queen's University Belfast and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust have developed the diagnostic test for meningococcal bacteria.
It detects whether a patient has meningitis, which is the inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord or septicaemia, which is the blood poisoning form of the disease.
The small piece of equipment resembles a portable home printer. A sample of blood or saliva produces a colour reading that determines if the patient has the condition.
"The real advantage of the new LAMP (loop mediated isothermal amplification) test is that it has the potential to be a simple bedside test that is rapid, cheap, easy to use and doesn't require laboratory trained staff," the Daily Mail quoted Professor Mike Shields, of Queen's University, as saying.
The Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) has supported the research.