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There’s now a breathalyser test for malaria

It’s an advancement that could fast-track efforts to eliminate the disease.

A feeding female 'Anopheles sinensis' mosquito on a human hand. Picture: CDC/James Gathany.

PRETORIA - Scientists have developed a breathalyser test for malaria.

It’s an advancement that could fast-track efforts to eliminate the disease.

Missouri biologists have road-tested a technique that senses the malaria parasite in samples of ­infected people’s breath.

The ­results, outlined at a conference in Baltimore, are built on an Australian discovery that malaria sufferers exhale high levels of certain chemicals.

The test could accelerate ­diagnosis because the chemicals spike at very early stages of infection when other techniques can fail to detect the parasite.

The new approach also offers a cheap alternative to lab-based DNA or blood analyses and finger-prick tests which can ­diagnose malaria in the field, but lack sensitivity and are losing reliability as the parasites mutate.

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