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Dogs Can Sense Malaria by Smelling Your Clothes

first_imgStay on target PewDiePie Pulls $50,000 Pledge to Anti-Hate Group After Fan BacklashPolice Arrest Dutch YouTubers for Trespassing Area 51 Site Dogs are known for their powerful sniffing abilities. They can help with crime scene investigations, police training, and search operations. But, canines’ heightened senses aren’t only valuable for these situations. Health researchers are now tapping doggos to help detect major diseases, including malaria, in people who may or may not be infected.Durham University research suggests that dogs can sense if someone has malaria by smelling their socks. Even if people don’t show malaria symptoms on the spot, these super-sniffing canines are able to identify if they’re infected with the disease, according to The Guardian.This research was recently presented at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s annual meeting in New Orleans. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the research involved requesting schoolchildren in Gambia to wear nylon socks while they slept overnight and then provide a blood sample tested for malaria.Following this stage, the socks were frozen and sent to the U.K., where two canines, including a Labrador-retriever cross mix and a Labrador, were trained for a period of time to detect if socks were worn by children with malaria or not. Socks from 145 uninfected children and 30 socks from malaria-infected children were collected for dog testing. The team noted that socks were only used from malaria-infected children if the they did not express symptoms of the disease.Researchers tested the dogs by presenting them a small group of socks at a time, with each sock placed separately in a glass jar. The research team observed if the dogs would pause at any of the socks, which is what the dogs were trained to do if a sock was worn by someone infected by the disease. The results demonstrated that each dog correctly determined socks worn by uninfected children about 90 percent of the time and identified socks that belonged to children with malaria roughly 70 percent of the time.Photo Credit: Durham UniversitySteven Lindsay, a public health entomologist from Durham University, said the dogs had trouble detecting malaria-infected socks from children that didn’t have malaria parasites reproducing asexually inside their bodies. These parasites reached the sexual stage of their reproduction cycle, making it difficult to determine if these socks had signs of malaria.“It might be that the odors produced by the parasites change if you are at the sexual stage or asexual stage,”  Lindsay told The Guardian. “That is unlikely because they weren’t able to identify the sexual parasites – that says to me that they actually know the parasites rather than the person.”The goal, according to Lindsay, is to further testing in countries where there might be different types of malaria parasites. With additional research, dogs might be able to help health professionals detect signs of malaria and other infectious diseases in the future.More on Geek.com: WWF: Human Consumption to Blame for Declining Wildlife PopulationsMove Over, Pavlov: Dogs Can Understand (Some) Human WordsLet Dogs Be Dogs: ‘Ground Scratching’ Behavior Nothing to Worry Aboutlast_img

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