Gambian Pouched Rats Can Detect Tuberculosis More Accurate Than a Microscope


gambian pouched rat detect tuberculosisGambian pouched rats differ from other rats because of its weight can reach 10-15 pounds. It also has a special ability to detect tuberculosis bacilli (TB), which is believed to be even more accurate than examination with a microscope.

By using the ability of Gambia pouched rats (Cricetomys gambianus), examination of Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes tuberculosis examination can be done more cheaply. Anyone can capture and keep it because these animals live wildly and spread in some regions of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Compare it with the latest method introduced by the world health organization WHO recently. Although able to detect tuberculosis in 2 hours, the price of the tool used to reaches U.S. $ 17,000 or approximately not including sputum cartridge that is not less expensive.

Meanwhile, the most practical and inexpensive method that has been done since 100 years ago that is considered weak in the aspects of accuracy, isĀ smear microscopy. This examination has a high risk of failure, because 60-80 percent of the bacteria are not detected by this method which rely solely on a microscope.

Smear microscopy requires a large number of sputum to guarantee its accuracy. Even so, this method is still widely used because it is cheap, especially in developing countries with limited laboratory facilities.

Recently, Prof. Alan Poling from Western Michigan University introduced an inexpensive yet accurate method to detect tuberculosis. These methods utilizes the sense of smell of Gambian pouched rats, a type of African giant rat.

In laboratory tests, the rat which size can be larger than a cat, is able to positively detect the presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis with a sensitivity of 86.6 percent. When given a sputum that is free of TB bacteria, the reaction of the rats to identify a negative result has an accuracy of 93 percent.

“After all Gambian pouched rats are fun animals. If they did not have a long and scaly tail, certainly they won’t be too scary, and certainly many would like to keep it,” said Prof. Poling, according to the NYTimes.