Detection dogs are celebrated for detecting diseases in humans using their powerful sense of smell. Now, researchers are training them to detect malaria.
The power of a dog’s nose can lead to a lot of good! Researchers in Gambia have recently harnessed it to help in the fight against malaria. Using games of scratch and sniff, researchers have trained dogs to respond to the scent of this disease in people who are not yet presenting symptoms.
Malaria kills around 400,000 people every year and most of these victims are children from Sub-Saharan Africa. Because symptoms begin long after a victim is bitten by an infected mosquito, it can be hard to keep areas that have been cleared of malaria disease-free. Researchers hope that, as this project develops, malaria-sniffing dogs can be deployed at borders to help find people who don’t yet know they are contagious and stop the disease from coming back into safe areas.
The bonus? To the dogs, it’s a fun game they get to play every day!