According to a new study, dogs could someday act as a powerful tool in diagnosing malaria. They will trained in such a manner to identify whether someone was infected with malaria simply by sniffing their socks.
Earlier, dogs were trained to use smell to diagnose some forms of cancer and diabetes and now they are so helpful in identifying malaria parasites.
Steve Lindsay, a public health entomologist at in the Department of Biosciences at Durham University said, “People carrying malaria parasite already have a signature scent, and we know if dogs can smell drugs, food and other substances, they should be able to detect this smell on clothing, too.”
The research team collected socks given to 600 schoolchildren ages 5 to 13 who did or did not have malaria. Then, using these socks they trained the dogs over four months.
Lindsay said, “We took the socks that had captured the scent of the children overnight and flew them to the UK, where the dogs were trained to smell and differentiate samples that were infected or not.”
Out of the samples collected 175 were used to train the dogs. 30 socks collected from children were infected with malaria and 145 from uninfected children. by smelling the socks those dogs accurately detected 70% of infected children and 90% of uninfected children.
Thus, it is concluded that dogs are capable of identifying more sensitive to odors than humans due to the presence of millions of sensors in their noses.