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  • Cierra Voelkl

So Can Dogs Really Detect Malaria?


This has been a hot topic recently as it's recently been theorized that canines can actually detect malaria. In one of our most recent blogs, we discussed how powerful a dog's sense of smell is and how they can even detect diseases and cancer in people due to the chemical change in their body. Well now they are being put to the test in an effort to detect malaria via a person's socks! Yes, socks! And this is all before a person even shows ANY symptoms. While many countries have almost or completely eradicated the disease, there is still a risk because mosquitoes aren't going any where any time soon, unfortunately.

When a person contracts malaria, some don't show any symptoms initially making it very difficult to treat before it's too late. To test the theory that dogs can detect malaria, a study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation asked children in Gambia to wear nylon socks just overnight and give a blood sample which was then screened for malaria. Those socks were then frozen and sent to the UK and that's when fido comes in.


Photo Credit: LSHTM Blogs

Two dogs were put to the test after months of training. They had to detect which socks were worn by malaria-infected children. There were 30 infected and 145 uninfected pairs of socks in the mix. When it came to trying to sniff out the bad batches, the pups were able to correctly identify the infected socks 70% of the time and recognize uninfected socks 90% of the time. Also take note that the children who wore infected socks did not present any symptoms.


Photo Credit: LSHTM Blogs

It was believed that the lack of being able to correctly detect all the infected socks had to do with the stage that they disease was reproducing at inside the children's bodies. And you know what they say, practice makes perfect! It's also hoped that over time, the dogs will get more skilled at the detection.

Let's just put our paws together for these pups that could help save thousands of lives!


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