Dec. 29, 2014 --The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Swiss drug maker Roche's fast-acting Ebola test for emergency use. The test -- which checks for genetic traces of the often deadly virus -- offers results in about three hours, compared to many tests on the market that can take a day to produce results, according to news reports.
It's hoped that the test -- called LightMix Ebola Zaire rRT-PCR -- can be used in the field to identify people infected with the strain of Ebola that has been causing havoc in West Africa since the spring. The test is still not approved for general use, the FDA said.
By diagnosing Ebola early, the goal is to offer quicker treatment of patients who show signs of the disease.
However, the Washington Post reported Monday that the test probably won't have a significant impact on Ebola diagnoses -- at least initially. The reason: many patients in West Africa live far from labs equipped with expensive testing techniques needed to interpret the results.
West Africa's Ebola outbreak has led to more than 12,400 confirmed cases and nearly 7,600 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.