Dogs Can Sense Malaria by Smelling Your Clothes, Research Says

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During the research, sniffer dogs were made to sniff the socks worn for 24 hours by children in The Gambia.

The animals can be trained to detect the scent of the malaria parasite, which is transmitted to people through the bites of the infected Anopheles mosquito, experts have said. Ultimately, said Lindsay, he'd like to see malaria-detection dogs help patrol airports and seaports of countries that have recently become malaria-free and help root out the last few cases of malaria in a country.

In 2019, Malaria killed more than 445,000 people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Scientists at Durham University, Medical Detection Dogs and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, along with counterparts in Gambia received a grant by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to commission research into the possibility.

"Our results show that sniffer dogs could be a serious way of making diagnosis of people who don't show any symptoms, but are still infectious, quicker and easier".

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In total 175 sock samples were tested including those of all 30 malaria-positive children identified by the study and 145 uninfected children.

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.

"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 odour with a credible degree of accuracy".

Researchers say artificial odor sensors could someday be developed, but for now, trained dogs could be a new resource in the global fight against malaria.

Sniffer dogs could potentially be deployed at ports of entry to identify passengers carrying malaria to prevent the spread of the disease across borders and to ensure people receive timely antimalarial treatment.

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Results of this preliminary investigation, the details of which were disclosed at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in New Orleans, suggests dogs can, in fact, sniff out the disease in infected individuals.

The Durham University researchers hope the non-invasive test could be used to quickly diagnose and treat patients. These socks were shipped to the United Kingdom where two dogs were trained to scent-detect malaria. Similarly, a handful of other studies have shown that dogs can hound out diseases like cancer by detecting the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with certain cancers in the breath or urine of people with the disease. To identify this disease in dogs, it takes two to fifteen minutes.

Guest noted that malaria is both preventable and curable, saying that her team's research is aimed at harnessing the fantastic power of a dog's nose to prevent the disease. "This is a reliable, non-invasive test and is extremely exciting for the future". New approaches would go a long way to addressing the detection problem, and by effect, reducing the rate of malaria transmissions. It costs a lot to produce.

Dogs are known for their powerful sniffing abilities.

Malaria can be life-threatening, but it's also preventable and curable.

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