Following the great success of research on the use of rats in identifying bombs and parasites that cause Tuberculosis and others, researchers from Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) say there is a strong possibility that these rats could be used to detect Corona Virus infection ( COVID 19)
This has been highlighted on 10th May 2021 at the Sokoine University of Agriculture pavilion by Senior Researcher and SUA - APOPO Rat Research Project Manager, Dr. Georgies Mgode during the National Innovation, Science and Technology Exhibition and Competition (MAKISATU 2021) in Dodoma, Tanzania.
"We believe that Rats can detect Corona Virus and its infections very effectively because we have seen success in the diagnosis of Tuberculosis, as each parasite has its own odor and every disease caused by different parasites has its own odor so we believe Rats can do the job effectively” Noted Dr. Mgode.
He said they have already written proposals to raise funds to start training the rats and they believe that they will help to identify people who have the virus but the symptoms have not yet appeared noting that if you can diagnose the disease before the symptoms appear it is easier to prevent infection more quickly.
"This will be very useful because the Corona tests are currently very expensive but using trained rats, we believe it will be cheaper and will also relieve severe pain for people being tested when taking samples of suspected COVID-19 patients," said Dr. Mgode
Secretary General of the Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU) Prof. Charles Kihampa (center wearing glasses) watching the Rats in action at the SUA pavilion
In addition, Dr. Mgode explained that the act of identifying early infections in people with the virus is important as it will help people protect themselves but also those who are infected with the virus will be treated early thus reducing the rate of mortality and the spread of the disease.
He said that there are many scientists who after seeing the great success that the Rats have achieved, experimented with the use of artificial noses to detect the parasites that cause diseases but have not succeeded as SUA in using the real rat, so APOPO and SUA will continue to use the rat due to its great potential in recognizing the presence of various diseases.
Dr. Mgode thanked the Government for approving the use of Rat Diagnostic Technology in its Hospitals with agreement that rat-based results should be verified by other scientific technologies in hospitals and that has helped many people to recover after being diagnosed
Dr. Mgode cited that last year 2020 a total of 2014 patients who were not diagnosed with tuberculosis using conventional Hospital testing methods were identified using SUA APOPO trained rats ‘HeroRats’.
Dr. Mgode said they are now more convinced after seeing that even some of those who suspect the use of Rats in diagnosing TB have now begun to discuss how to use Dogs in making such diagnoses.
“We firmly believe that the best results available in Tanzania will help to influence and change the negative attitudes of some nations and other scientists who do not believe in the use of rats and especially considering that our country Tanzania is leading the fight against tuberculosis (TB)” Explained Dr. Mgode.
The SUA - APOPO project which conducts research on the use of trained Rats has its headquarters in Sokoine University of Agriculture, Pest Management Center and for the first time the project started with the research of Rats in detecting land mines and the technology was very successful and used in countries such as Mozambique, Angola and Cambodia.
The Rats, who have been trained at Sokoine University of Agriculture, have a great ability to detect tuberculosis bacteria, detect the smuggling of government trophies such as ivory and rhinoceros as well as armadillo scales, and the smuggling of hardwoods that are at risk of extinction at the border.
Story and Photo Credits
Calvin Edward Gwabara, SUAMEDIA