Sokoine University of Agriculture

From pests to tests: training rats to diagnose tuberculosis

Show simple item record Fiebig, L. Beyene, N. Burny, R. Fast, C. D. Cox, C. Mgode, G. F. 2020-06-02T10:55:39Z 2020-06-02T10:55:39Z 2020
dc.description Journal of Eur Respir J 2020; 55: 1902243 en_US
dc.description.abstract 2020 is the year of the rat. The rat is the first of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs, and represents spirit, alertness, flexibility and vitality. In respiratory medicine, we may think of rats as vectors for diseases, such as pulmonary forms of hantavirus disease or leptospirosis, and pneumonic plague. Rodent control is thus part of hygiene guidelines and the International Health Regulations. And yet, the rat’s keen sense of smell has led to its incredible career as a living tuberculosis (TB) detector. The TB detection rat journey began with an idea in Tanzania in 2001, roughly 120 years after the TB-causing Mycobacterium tuberculosis was discovered by microscopy and bacterial culture. African giant pouched rats (Cricetomys ansorgei) had already been successfully trained using positive reinforcement to find explosives [1]. So, the question arose if they could do more for humanity by helping to also combat disease. But how would the rats use their noses to find bacteria or otherwise sniff out TB patients? For centuries, olfaction had already informed diagnostics in medical practices, e.g. in detecting metabolic issues such as ketoacidosis or tissue decay such as gangrene [2]. In the Flemish common language, the word tering, which etymologically refers to the smell of tar, is used for TB. The advent of chromatographic techniques allows characterisation of the organic compounds causing odours. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher ERS 2020 en_US
dc.subject Pests tests en_US
dc.subject Rats training en_US
dc.subject Diagnose tuberculosis en_US
dc.subject Rodent control en_US
dc.title From pests to tests: training rats to diagnose tuberculosis en_US
dc.type Article en_US
dc.url en_US

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