Sniffing Out Tuberculosis

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Rats sometimes get a bad reputation, but APOPO's HeroRATs are saving Tanzanian lives. With support from USAID's Global Development Lab, these animals are trained to use their excellent sense of smell to screen TB samples, helping medical practitioners identify patients who need treatment. The rats are so good at what they do, they can screen more samples in 20 minutes than a lab technician would be able to screen in several days using traditional methods. With the help of the rats, APOPO has increased new case findings by 40 percent - a huge success in the fight against a dangerous disease that requires fast diagnosis and treatment. Any rat-suspect samples are rechecked using WHO endorsed methods and if TB is confirmed, APOPO notifies the clinic. Learn more here: 

Video Transcript 
Sniffing Out Tuberculosis -- Nine million people get infected with mycobacterium tuberculosis in a year, and 1.5 million people die. On-screen description: Tuberculosis can only be eliminated with accurate, fast detection and treatment. One NGO, APOPO, has discovered a highly effective new technology to detect TB -- rats. The end goal of APOPO, using the African giant pouched rat nicknamed HeroRAT, is to make the world a better place to live, free from TB. This is my friend, Seraphina. Seraphina has an extraordinary sense of smell. Seraphina has saved a lot of lives. So what we do is bring the samples to the rat for the evaluation. It can indicate and tell us in a very short time that this sample contains mycobacterium TB, this sample doesn't contain mycobacterium tuberculosis. When the rat reaches his sample hole, that sample contains mycobacterium TB. The rat has been conditioned to scratch or pause for about three or five seconds. The click will be activated and the rat will be rewarded. It is hard work to be done by a human being. Normally the technician at a TB clinic is checking 20 to 25 samples in a day. While the HeroRAT here at APOPO is checking 100 samples in only 20 minutes. APOPO has an increase of 40 percent of new case findings, compared to the traditional method of using the smear microscopy at the TB clinic. The HeroRAT of APOPO has a huge impact on Tanzanian life because of what they're doing to eradicate TB from the world. We are proud of Seraphina. Development Innovation Ventures and APOPO are working together to increase TB detection at a fraction of the traditional cost. To learn more, visit DIVPORTFOLIO.ORG

Last updated: January 15, 2021

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