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Sniffing Out Malaria: Dogs to Identify People with Malaria

Steve Lindsay of the University of Durham in the United Kingdom will develop a non-invasive test to block the reemergence of malaria in disease-free regions by training dogs to identify specific odors that are released from people carrying the malaria parasite. It is known that people infected with the malaria-causing parasite Plasmodium falciparum produce thioethers in their breath, possibly to attract mosquitoes so that the parasite can spread more quickly to other people, thereby promoting malaria transmission. Dogs have a highly advanced sense of smell and are used at airports to detect drugs, explosives and fruit. They have also shown potential for helping to detect diseases including cancer. The investigators will take breath and skin samples from 30 asymptomatic but parasite-positive individuals both before and after treatment, and 30 negative individuals. Professional trainers will be used to help evaluate the ability of a dog to detect the difference between the positive and negative samples by training them over a two-month period.

More information about Explore New Solutions in Global Health Priority Areas (Round 16)

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