Malaria breathalyzer test could help millions

Scientists have made a breathalyzer to test people for malaria. It could help detect the deadly disease earlier than other methods and help millions of people. The researchers say people with malaria give off a special "breath print". The breathalyzer detects the breath print chemicals when someone breathes into the device. One of the odours the device finds is the same as a natural smell that attracts malaria-spreading insects. The device is still in the early stages of development. The researchers say it could be a new, cheap and easy way to help diagnose malaria.

The breathalyzer detects six different odours to spot cases of malaria. The researchers tested 35 children in Malawi. They took breath samples to test the accuracy of the machine. It accurately said 29 of the children had malaria – a success rate of 83 per cent. The lead researcher said that easy-to-use, reliable testing devices could reduce unnecessary antibiotic use. She said: "This would have a major impact on the control of malaria, because all current [testing] methods require blood sampling." Malaria currently kills around 430,000 people a year around the world.