Sniffing out malaria in People, How a trained nose can sniff out malaria
Trained sniffer dogs could be soon putting their super sense of smell to good use sniffing out malaria in people. A research study had been commissioned that shows trained sniffer dogs can positively detect the malaria parasite in the bloodstream by sniffing socks.
Researchers from the Medical Research Council Unit, The Gambia (MRCG) and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) used nylon socks to collect foot odour samples from apparently healthy children aged five to fourteen in the Upper River Region of The Gambia in West Africa.
Using a simple finger-prick test the children were also screened to determine if they had the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum in their blood.
The sock samples were then transported to the Medical Detection Dogs (MDD) charity in Milton Keynes, where sniffer dogs were trained to distinguish between the scent of children infected with malaria parasites and those who were uninfected.
In total 175 sock samples were tested including those of all 30 malaria-positive children identified by the study and 145 from uninfected children.
The dogs were able to correctly identify 70 per cent of the malaria-infected samples. The dogs were also able to correctly identify 90 per cent of the samples without malaria parasites.
Good boy Fido, remember the next time a canine friend buries his head into your crotch, he may just be detecting something you don't know about.