SCIENTISTS have discovered a technique for the early detection of a deadly superbug.

A research team, led by the University of Sunderland, announced today that it has found a way of detecting the potentially fatal bacterium pseudomonas aeruginosa within 24 to 48 hours of infection.

Patients with cystic fibrosis are particularly susceptible to the infection, but patients with immune defects are also at risk, such as those with Aids, cancer or severe burns.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA, says pseudomonas aeruginosa accounts for 10.1% of all hospital infections.

The superbug is highly resistant to antibiotics, making it difficult to cure, but the scientists said early detection greatly increases a patient’s chances of survival.

Professor Paul Groundwater, who led the research, said: “This superbug has a massive impact on people who are immunocompromised, for example patients with severe burns, cancer and AIDS.

“It is calculated that 28% of people who have undergone transplant surgery are infected by pseudomonas aeruginosa. We hope our research will make a big difference in the survival rate of many thousands of vulnerable people throughout the world.

“It is really difficult to treat, and hospital staff need to know very quickly if someone has been infected by it.”