RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- Imagine being sick and knowing the disease could kill you before you're even diagnosed.
It's happening to hundreds of thousands of people across the globe. So scientists at the University of Nevada Medical School are working to diagnose fatal diseases faster.
"It could save, you know, a million lives a year," said David AuCoin, an associate professor in the department of microbiology and immunology.
AuCoin's team is using tiny tests to make a big impact on diagnosing infectious diseases.
"It's based on a home pregnancy test, so it's fairly simple technology, but it's exactly what they need in these resource-poor settings," he said.
AuCoin is targeting a bacterial infection that's prominent in Southeast Asia.
"It's [a disease] called melioidosis and it has a 40 percent mortality rate," AuCoin said.
It causes a high fever and respiratory infection and it used to take several days to diagnose, which is often too late.
"It's estimated to kill about 200 thousand people a year in Southeast Asia," AuCoin said.
The rapid test strip can detect the infection in 10 minutes and help patients get the right treatment as quickly as possible.
"It's resistant to common antibiotics, so you can get them on the right antibiotic and hopefully save their lives," AuCoin said.
His partner Thomas Kozel is using their technology to diagnose a type of fungal meningitis in Africa. AuCoin said it's especially deadly to the 22 million people there who are living with HIV.
"It kills about 600 thousand people a year, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa," he said.
Because the tests are cheap and easy to use, he hopes to see the rapid tests become the new standard.
"So people can figure out what they're infected with, AuCoin said. "I think everybody deserves to know what they're infected with. So I'd like more widespread use of these tests."
AuCoin's team is now working to adapt this same technology to help diagnose whooping cough and lyme disease cases in the U.S.