Sunday, 19 Nov 2017

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Malaria breath test shows promise

No icon Amar Doctor

Health Desk: Nov 8, 2017 -- People with malaria give off a distinctive "breath-print" that could be used as a test for the disease, according to American scientists.

They had already tried out a crude prototype breathalyser in Africa, a tropical medicine conference heard.

The test was reasonably good at detecting cases in children, but needs developing to become a routine device.

One of the odours it sniffs out is identical to a natural smell that attracts insects that spread malaria.

Simple, rapid blood tests for malaria are already available, but they have limits, say the Washington University researchers.

Testing blood can be expensive and technically challenging in rural settings.

A non-invasive method of detection that does not require blood samples or technical expertise could be of great benefit.

Prof James Logan from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said: "The rapid detection of asymptomatic malaria is a challenge for malaria control and will be essential as we move towards achieving the goal of malaria elimination. A new diagnostic tool, based on the detection of volatiles associated with malaria infection is exciting."