Posted on November 13, 2017
Researchers from the Washington University in St Louis, United States, have said a breath test may be the new way of diagnosing patients with malaria.
According to the American scientists who just concluded a trial of the malaria breathalyzer, people with malaria give off a distinctive breath-print that could be used as a test for the disease.
The lead researcher, Prof Audrey John said that although the test needs perfecting, it could be a cheaper and less intrusive way of diagnosing the disease rapidly.
Presently, blood or urine samples have to be taken from patients in order to test them for malaria.
John stated that the test was reasonably good at detecting cases in children, but it needed to be developed to adapt as a routine device.
The researchers tried it on breath samples from 35 feverish children in Malawi, some with and some without malaria. It gave an accurate result in 29 of the children, meaning that it had a success rate of 83 per cent.
This is quite low for the test to be adopted for testing malaria globally, but the scientists have said they would work to increase its efficacy.
A non-invasive method of detection that does not require blood samples or technical expertise could be of great benefit.
The findings are being presented at this year’s annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.