January 16, 2019

Sniffer Dogs Could Help Identify Malaria Easily In Humans

01 November 2018, 08:30 | Rodolfo Wallace

Police Sniffer-dogs

Police Sniffer-dogs

New research shows that dogs can be trained to detect the malaria parasite in infected individuals using their keen sense of smell.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes, but it can be prevented and cured.

World Health Organisation calculated in 2016 that malaria infected 216 million people worldwide and killed 445,000.

A team led by James Logan, head of the Department of Disease Control at the London tropical medicine school, previously demonstrated that socks worn by infected children were more alluring to the little bloodsuckers, likely because the garments' odors contained more chemicals called aldehydes.

A team of researchers in the United Kingdom announced on Monday the results of their study that shows dogs can scent malaria infected people from their odour.

Using a study of 175 socks worn from children overnight, 30 were discovered to have been worn by children infected with the malaria parasite.

The project to train dogs to identify people infected with malaria parasites was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation under its Grand Challenges Exploration initiative that seeks novel ideas to address global health and development issues.

But Lindsay said the dogs' success rate actually might have been higher-up to 78 percent-if the children with malaria were all carrying the same type of parasites.

It's this same odor the dogs are likely to be smelling, said Professor Steve Lindsay, Principle Investigator of the study from Durham University.

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A team of researchers say they have trained a special set of dogs to sniff out malaria parasites on clothes, the aim of which is to help physicians in the effective diagnosis and treatment of the tropical disease.

The new project, presented this week at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Annual Meeting, has shown how dogs can be trained to sniff out the scent of malaria.

Dogs, equipped with their hyper-sensitive snoot, can detect the presence of the molecular signature of malaria.

"Dogs are capable of being trained to detect malaria with a reliable degree of accuracy".

"They are much faster than existing rapid diagnostic tests which can take up to 20 minutes and require a fully trained professional to do".

"This is the first time we have trained dogs to detect a parasite infection and we are delighted by these early results".

"I believe that this study indicates that dogs have an excellent ability to detect malaria and if presented within an individual infected with the parasite or a piece of recently worn clothing, their accuracy levels will be extremely high". According to a new research, good dogs can diagnose malaria accurately in people, even when they don't show such symptoms.

They could also be deployed at points of entry to screen travellers into a country or area, just as dogs are used to sniff out drugs or other banned substances. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless.

"So for countries that have eliminated, it's a really interesting potential new way they could protect their borders and keep their countries malaria free".

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