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Giant Rats Finally Useful for Something: Detecting Tuberculosis

Scientists in Mozambique are training the rodents to detect TB bacteria at a far lower cost than other detection methods.

Image via APOPO.

“Giant rats” score high on my list of “Animals I Never Want to Ever Encounter” but it turns out the dingy rodents have at least two redeeming qualities (the first one being that they are great food for our cats). At the Eduardo Mondlane University, scientists are training kitten-sized rats to sniff out the bacteria that causes tuberculosis. In Mozambique, one of the World Health Organization’s 22 high-burden countries for tuberculosis, this kind of rat-powered detection process could prove to be much more practical—and far less costly—than GeneXpert, a diagnostic technology that can cost a cool $17K.

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Why I Moved to Tanzania to Work with Rats

Training rats to detect landmines and tuberculosis? How could I turn down an opportunity to help develop this innovative solution to such immense worldwide problems?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrzpEfCUnjc

Training rats to detect landmines and tuberculosis? How could I turn down an opportunity to help develop this innovative solution to such immense worldwide problems?

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