sniffing dog

Dogs can detect malaria in people, study shows

A new study by Durham University shows that sniff dogs could be trained to detect malaria in people infected with the disease. Even if they are not showing any symptoms.

In a press release, lead researcher Steven Lindsay said “While our findings are at an early stage, in principle we have shown that dogs could be trained to detect malaria infected people by their odor, with a credible degree of accuracy”

Researchers from the medical research council unit of the Gambia and the London school of hygiene and tropical medicine used socks to collect foot odour samples from children between the ages of five(5) and fourteen(14) in the upper river region of the Gambia in west Africa

A total of 175 sock samples were tested. 30 malaria positive children and 145 uninfected children.

The sock samples were then transported to Britain where dogs were trained to distinguish between the scent of people infected with malaria parasites and those who were uninfected.

  The dogs were able to correctly identify 70 percent of the malaria infected samples and 90 percent of the samples without the malaria parasites.

“With the innovative approach, these researchers show that new tools to tackle malaria can come from unexpected places” says Dr. Regina Rabinovich, the president of the ASTMH (American society of tropical medicine and hygiene).

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