#COVID19 SUA rats to sniff COVID-19 infection

Geza Ulole

JF-Expert Member
Oct 31, 2009
RESEARCH in the employment of rats to sniff landmines, TB bacteria and other hidden pathogens will soon enable the Sokoine

University of Agriculture (SUA) to field the rats to detect coronavirus infections.

Dr Georges Mgode.

Dr Georges Mgode, a senior researcher and manager of the SUA-APOPO rat research unit said this to visitors to the SUA pavilion at the 2021 national scientific, technological and innovative competition here yesterday.

“We believe the rats can detect corona viruses and infection with significant levels of accuracy as in the cases of TB bacteria. Each pathogen or bacteria has its particular smell and each disease has a particular smell, so rats can do that work,” he said,
The unit has prepared a paper to seek funds to enable the start of teaching the rats, and when the money is available the unit will start working, especially on people with the virus but without symptoms.

“This will be of great benefit as for now tests for Covid-19 are costly, with imported equipment, but by using rats it will be cheaper and minimize complications related to waiting for results from samples taken,” he stated.

Dr Mgode said there are many scientists in developed countries who, after seeing achievements in what rats could accomplish, made experiments by using a fake (electronic) nose for sniffing in order to detect bacteria, but they were not successful in like manner as what SUA achieved with the rats.

He was happy for endorsement of the use of rat technology in government hospitals on prior agreement that results by rat tests be confirmed by other technologies before the hospitals can proceed with the medication.

The unit was encouraged with diminishing doubts about the use of rats to detect TB bacteria, with the discussion not focusing on using dogs for the same purpose, he stated.

Weapon used in obtaining positive results will vary but when the disease is eventually eradicated, that’s when issues of the best technology will be sorted out completely, he said.

SUA-APOPO Project uses trained African Giant Pouched Rats, nicknamed ‘hero rats’ to detect tuberculosis (TB) by scent in clinical samples in Tanzania and Mozambique, the researcher added.

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