Dogs Can Detect Malaria. How Useful will be that will?
Dogs have such exquisitely sensitive noses that will they can detect bombs, drugs, citrus along with some other contraband in luggage or pockets.
will be the idea possible that will they can sniff out even malaria? along with when might that will be useful?
A tiny pilot study has shown that will dogs can accurately identify socks worn overnight by children infected with malaria parasites — even when the children had cases so mild that will they were not feverish.
The study, a collaboration between British along with Gambian scientists along with the British charity Medical Detection Dogs, was released last week at the annual convention of the American Society of Tropical Medicine along with Hygiene.
In itself, such canine prowess will be not surprising. Since 2004, dogs have shown that will they can detect bladder cancer in urine samples, lung cancer in breath samples along with ovarian cancer in blood samples.
Trained dogs right now warn owners with diabetes when their blood sugar has dropped dangerously low along with owners with epilepsy when they are on the verge of a seizure. some other dogs are being taught to detect Parkinson’s disease years before symptoms appear.
The fresh study, its authors said, does not mean that will dogs will replace laboratories. Inexpensive rapid tests for malaria have been available for over a decade; more than 0 million people in dozens of countries are infected each year.
although for sorting through crowds, malaria-sniffing dogs could potentially be very useful.
Some countries along with regions that will have eliminated the disease share heavily trafficked borders with others that will have not. For example, South Africa, Sri Lanka along with the island of Zanzibar have no cases although get streams of visitors by Mozambique, India along with mainland Tanzania.
along with when a region will be close to eliminating malaria, dogs could sweep through villages, nosing out silent carriers — people who are not ill although have parasites in their blood that will mosquitoes could pass on to others.
Dog noses are 10,000 to 100,000 times as sensitive as human noses. Scientists are not sure exactly what dogs are smelling, although the idea will be known that will malaria parasites produce volatile aldehydes like those found in perfumes.
The parasites may have evolved the ability to exude odoriferous chemicals in order to attract mosquitoes to carry them to fresh hosts. Studies have shown that will mosquitoes prefer to bite people who have malaria.
If just one chemical indicated cancer or malaria, “we’d have discovered the idea by right now,” said Claire Guest, who founded Medical Detection Dogs in 2008 along with oversaw dog training inside the study. “the idea’s more like a tune of many notes, along with the dogs can pick the idea up.”
Most breeds have Great noses, she said, although the best due to that will task are dogs bred to hunt — like pointers, spaniels along with Labradors — along with dogs with relaxed relationships with their owners.
The initial trials were just to prove that will detection was feasible, said Steve W. Lindsay, an entomologist at Durham University in Britain who said he was inspired by a dog sniffing luggage for contraband food at Washington Dulles airport.
that will preliminary study involved training just two dogs to sniff rows of jars containing bits of thin nylon socks that will had been worn overnight by Gambian children.
When the dogs, a Labrador-golden retriever mix named Lexi along having a Labrador named Sally, recognized the telltale odors, they were supposed to stop along with point at the jar.
[Like the Science Times page on Facebook. | Sign up for the Science Times newsletter.]
They were only about 70 percent accurate at spotting socks by children with malaria, although 0 percent accurate at not giving false positives.
Their accuracy might have been higher under different circumstances, Dr. Lindsay said. Some children had probably shared beds with infected siblings, along with the socks had to be stored in a freezer for a year while the dogs were trained along with the study design approved.
“W.C. Fields said, ‘Never work with children or animals,’ along with here we are working with both,” he said.
Because some Muslims avoid dogs or their saliva as unclean, Dr. Lindsay worried that will African Muslims — of which there are millions — might object to being sniffed.
“Once we explained what we were doing, people were quite O.K. with the idea,” he said.
He was asked if smaller, cheaper or more local animals could be trained — African giant pouched rats, for example, have been used to detect land mines along with tuberculosis.
“Yes, I suppose,” he said. “although at ports of entry, I think people might rather see dogs running around than rats.”