– People with malaria parasites create special odors in the skin. We found that dogs with a sensitive odor can be trained to detect this odor. This also applies to clothing used by infected people, said Steven Lindsay of the British Department of the Durham University of Biosciences and Chief Research Officer for a new malaria study.
He recently presented his findings at the annual meeting of the American Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Association.
Spike on socks
The new survey was attended by several hundred Gambia students. First, they undertook a general health check, then they were tested for malaria parasites. After that, they got a pair of socks to be used all night. The next day, researchers collect socks and categorize them as a child in malaria infection. They only collected socks for children with malaria who do not have symptoms and socks of fresh children. After that, socks were sent to England. Here they were frozen while training dogs.
The roaming test was limited to differences between infants who had come into contact with malaria and healthy. They needed to sniff at each pair of socks and freeze them if they thought they had found malaria mites. If they do not like something, they should move forward.
The test showed that dogs managed to identify 70 percent of children with malaria-infected socks and 90 percent healthy.
Malaria parasite mutates
Researchers say impact precision is impressive and dogs have been able to identify socks for children with lower levels of infection than are required by the World Health Organization (WHO) quick tests.
Generally, malaria is diagnosed using blood samples and microscopy. It can be time consuming and requires special skills. You can also use rapid blood tests, but they are quite expensive. They have a high level of accuracy.
The researchers knew that it was so-called proof of conceptA study to prove that dogs can be diagnosed with malaria. They also believe that the accuracy of sniffing dogs can be as good as blood tests. Lindsay justifies this because malaria parasites for children are not necessarily the same as they are at different stages of the disease. Its scent, which they create for human skin, is changing.
He points out that the tests used today can also be brief, since malaria parasites interact. Thus, parasites may not have the specific protein required for clinical tests to show an infection
In addition, researchers believe that the ability of sniffing dogs to detect certain malaria-related odors can inspire the emergence of new and artificial nasal muscles that can smell the disease.
Malaria watchdogs at the border
Lindsay believes that sniffing dogs may be useful if health authorities want to test villages for malaria carriers who have no apparent symptoms. To be a carrier, you can carry malaria parasites to local mosquitoes. The only way we can prevent proliferation today is to test or cure all the villages.
Therefore, the study participants believe that sniffing dogs could work well at border crossings in countries where malaria is almost destroyed. Lindsay draws attention to the East African island of Zanzibar, where the elimination of malaria parasite has been difficult due to the constant flow of immigrants.
Too little accurate
Gunnars Hasle is an infectious disease specialist and operates in Reiseklinikken Oslo. He claims that the original hit score of 70 percent is too low.
"This means that the method is pointless to see if a person with a fever has malaria because it is not allowed to make a mistake of 30 percent.
He also points out that 90 percent of those who were healthy and that 10 percent receive an incorrect malaria report.
"This is an unacceptably high number if this method is used to smell a large number of healthy people," he says.
Blood analysis at the clinic, dogs at the border
Hasle also points out that odor markings have been used for hundreds of years. Among other things, it is possible to achieve diabetes by breathing acetone scents or nail polish remover. In addition, it is possible to calm liver failure, because the spirit has a sweet smell.
"It's also trying to get dogs to diagnose lung cancer," said Hasle, referring to the 2012 poll. The result was approximately the same as in the malaria trial.
He believes it is completely impossible to use dogs to diagnose clinics and that, however, it will be difficult to train enough dogs to meet the need
– Any health unit in the tropical zone must have a malaria diagnosis. After that, it's much easier to get quick tests that you can use after less training than trained dogs.
He nevertheless believes that they can, in some cases, help and support the researchers' idea of using dogs as malaria guards.
"Sniff dogs can be used to massively test immigration to an area that eliminates malaria," he concluded.