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Could a giant, spit-sniffing rat save your life?

Maybe — they can be better than humans at diagnosing tuberculosis.

A pilot program in Tanzania is using trained rats to smell TB in sputum samples. Up to 1,000 samples a week are collected from local hospitals by APOPO, a nonprofit that also trains rats to sniff out landmines. Although the TB samples have already been checked by a human under the microscope, the rat pack’s sniff tests have improved disease detection by 44 percent because the clever rodents often find TB that was missed.


Asked by tasches at 5:00 PM on Sep. 9, 2010 in Health

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Answers (5)
  • Cool. I saw a TV show a few weeks ago that showed a dog that could sniff out cancerous skin lesions, it was impressive.

    Answer by charliebean at 5:15 PM on Sep. 9, 2010

  • pretty weird,and pretty cool! Its like the cancer sniffing dogs

    Answer by butterflyblue19 at 5:01 PM on Sep. 9, 2010

  • I believe it.We used to have pet rats.They make great pets.But their life span is about 2 years.

    Answer by bvannkissy at 5:06 PM on Sep. 9, 2010

  • ummm weird

    Answer by itsmesteph11 at 5:10 PM on Sep. 9, 2010

  • Full article:

    Comment by tasches (original poster) at 5:03 PM on Sep. 9, 2010