Monday, 16 April 2018

Rats sniff out TB in children



Research shows that rats can detect tuberculosis in children with higher accuracy than standard microscopy tests

Date:  April 9, 2018
Source:  Springer

Rats are able to detect whether a child has tuberculosis (TB), and are much more successful at doing this than a commonly used basic microscopy test. These are the results of research led by Georgies Mgode of the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania. The study, published by Springer Nature in Pediatric Research, shows that when trained rats were given children's sputum samples to sniff, the animals were able to pinpoint 68 percent more cases of TB infections than detected through a standard smear test. Inspiration for investigating the diagnosis of TB through smell came from anecdotal evidence that people suffering from the potentially fatal lung disease emit a specific odour. According to Mgode, current TB detection methods are far from perfect, especially in under-resourced countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia where the disease is prevalent, and where a reasonably cheap smear test is commonly used. Problems with this type of test are that the accuracy varies depending on the quality of sputum sample used, and very young children are often unable to provide enough sputum to be analysed.



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