According to American scientists, People with malaria give off a distinctive “breath–print” that could be used as a test for the disease.

The crude prototype Breathalyzer was already tried out in Africa, a tropical medicine conference heard.  The test was good at detecting cases in children and needs developing to become a routine device.


The sniffed odor is identical to a natural smell that attracts insects that spread malaria. Researchers from Washington University in St Louis say, pine trees and conifers emit these terpenes to summon mosquitoes and other pollinating insects.


They believe people with malaria with this odor in their breath may also attract mosquitoes and other biting insects too, which can then transmits the disease to other people by their bite.    


The prototype breath test detects six different odors or volatile organic compounds to spot cases of malaria


The researchers tested on 35 children’s breath samples in Malawi some with Malaria and some without.


An accurate result was captured in 29 children, almost 83% success rate, which is too low for the test to be used routinely. However the researchers hope they can improve its reliability and develop it into an off-the –shelf product.


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


Reported; 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.”  He also added that more work needed to be down to see if it could be made into a reliable test.

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