Scientists have developed a breathalyzer to test people malaria. The device could help detect the deadly disease much earlier than other methods and thus help millions people the world. The researchers, from Washington University St Louis, USA, say that people with malaria give a distinctive "breath print". The breathalyzer detects the chemicals that malaria creates as the person breathes the device. One the odours the device detects is identical to a natural smell that attracts malaria-spreading insects such mosquitos. The device is still its early stages of development. The researchers say it could lead to a new, cheap and easy way to help diagnose malaria.
The prototype breathalyzer detects six different odours or chemical compounds to spot instances malaria. The researchers did tests 35 children in Malawi. They took breath samples using the breathalyzer to test the accuracy the machine. It accurately identified 29 the children having malaria. This was a success rate 83 per cent. Lead researcher Audrey Odom John said: "It's clear that if we had fast, easy-to-use, reliable diagnostic devices…we could reduce unnecessary antibiotic use. This would have a major impact the control malaria, because all current diagnostic methods require blood sampling." Malaria currently kills 430,000 a year the world.