Dogs are highly intelligent creatures and now we understand that they can even be used to detect malaria! Surprising, isn't it? Scientists claim that they can train dogs to sniff out tell-tale aromas of malaria using clothes from people infected with the deadly disease.
Researchers from Durham University in the UK said that Freya, a Springer Spaniel, is one of the dogs who has been trained to sniff out the scent of malaria. They claim that this method could be a highly effective and a non-invasive one to detect the deadly disease. “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,” said Steve Lindsay, a professor at Durham University. “This could provide a non-invasive way of screening for the disease at ports of entry in a similar way to how sniffer dogs are routinely used to detect fruit and vegetables or drugs at airports,” Lindsay said.
“This could help prevent the spread of malaria to countries that have been declared malaria-free and also ensure that people, many of whom might be unaware that they are infected with the malaria parasite, receive antimalarial drug treatment for the disease,” he said. Even researchers from the Medical Research Council Unit, The Gambia (MRCG) and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) tested out this theory of sniffer dogs being used to detect malaria and the dogs were able to correctly identify 70% of the malaria-infected samples. They were also able to correctly identify 90% of the samples without malaria parasites, researchers said.
For those not in the know, malaria is a deadly disease transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.