Tuesday July 23, 2019

Now Rats may help in Detecting Tuberculosis

The rats learn to recognize the presence of TB in samples of mucus that is coughed up from the patient's lower airways.

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Rats and treatment of Tuberculosis
FILE - An African Giant Pouch rat is seen before a training session where the rats will learn to detect tuberculosis (TB) at a laboratory in Sokoine University for Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania, Jan. 31, 2006. VOA

London, November 16,2017:

Giant rats are probably not the first thing that come to mind to tackle tuberculosis but scientists hope their sniffing skills will speed up efforts to detect the deadly disease in major cities across the world.

Tuberculosis, which is curable and preventable, is one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), killing 1.7 million people in 2016 and infecting 10.4 million others.

African Giant Pouched Rats, trained by Belgian charity APOPO, are known for sniffing out landmines in countries from Angola to Cambodia and for detecting TB cases in East Africa.

Over the next few years, APOPO plans to fight tuberculosis at the source by launching TB-detection rat facilities in major cities of 30 high-risk countries including Vietnam, India and Nigeria.

Rats can play a role in containing Tuberculosis
Dr. Simon Angelo (L) examines Iman Steven suffering from tuberculosis, held by her mother (R) at the hospital of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), June 15, 2016, at the Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Malakal, South Sudan. VOA

“One of the best ways to fight TB at source is in major cities that draw a lot of people from the rural areas,” James Pursey, APOPO spokesman, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“It is a vicious circle. You can be reinfected. To fight TB, you have to hit it hard,” he said by phone from Zimbabwe.

Many people get infected in big, densely populated cities and spread the disease to rural areas, according to Pursey.

The rats learn to recognize the presence of TB in samples of mucus that is coughed up from the patient’s lower airways.

In Tanzania, people in communities where TB is most common, including in prisons, often fail to show up for screening because of a lack of money or awareness, placing a huge burden on health authorities, health experts said.

“TB is a disease of poverty,” said Pursey. “If nothing changes it can only get worse.”

The APOPO has seen the TB detection rate increase by 40 percent in clinics it has worked with in Tanzania and Mozambique, according to Pursey, who said that using rats to screen did not negate the need for proper diagnostic testing.

While a technician may take four days to detect a case of TB, a trained rat can screen 100 samples in 20 minutes, and a rat screening costs as little as 20 US cents, APOPO said.

Next Story

Super Drug to Take on Stubborn Tuberculosis in Uttar Pradesh, India

Another pill with bedaquiline has already been introduced in the state to fight excessively drug resistant (XDR) TB

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Drug, Tuberculosis, Uttar Pradesh
The new anti-TB drug, with delamanid as active substance, is currently administered to patients. Pixabay

Uttar Pradesh may soon get a new drug to fight the multi-drug resistant (MDR) tuberculosis (TB).

The new anti-TB drug, with delamanid as active substance, is currently administered to patients — primarily children in the age group of six to 17 years — in a few southern states of India and is yet to be introduced in Uttar Pradesh, which reported 4.22 lakh patients in 2018.

According to the State TB officer Santosh Gupta, “Delamanid would be introduced in UP in the third quarter of the year, as per the central guidelines.”

“We are awaiting procurement of the drug from the union government. Four of our officers have been trained for implementation of it, which will be given to children (9-17 years) with MDR-TB,” the doctor added.

Drug, Tuberculosis, Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh may soon get a new drug to fight the multi-drug resistant (MDR) tuberculosis (TB). Pixabay

Gupta said that another pill with bedaquiline has already been introduced in the state to fight excessively drug resistant (XDR) TB and for which 18 nodal drug resistance centres have been set up.

“An XDR-TB patient is resistant to all anti-TB drugs, including even the stronger combinations of medicines. It is an advanced form of MDR-TB. Bedaquiline, which is WHO recommended, has been made available to patients for free and is found to be effective,” said Gupta and added that patients were being kept under close observation for side effects.

He further laid emphasis on the early detection of TB cases.

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Meanwhile, chairman of the UP state task force for TB control and head of KGMU’s respiratory medicine department, Professor Suryakant said: “Around 28 lakh TB patients are recorded in India. If nutrition is not received in the form of lentils/pulses, fruits and vegetables in diet, a person is more susceptible to the TB bacteria.” (IANS)