Robert Steele: Smart Rats Nail Tuberculosis in Spit from Smell Alone

Advanced Cyber/IO, Earth Intelligence
Robert Steele
Robert Steele

I’ve been fighting a losing battle for 25 years to reassert the primacy of the human factor within the craft of  intelligence (decision-support). Although I have no doubt this will happen eventually — industrial era technology is in performance free-fall — I am now becoming interested in plant and animal intelligence, and in how we might harness the distributed intelligence of plants and animals — including as sensors — at the same time that we radically enhance our ability to harness the distributed intelligence of humans.

Giant Rats Trained to Sniff Out Tuberculosis in Africa

Known for detecting land mines, the rodents could also help detect disease.


“Rats are very fast,” said his trainer, Catia Souto, adding that one rat can evaluate more samples in ten minutes than a lab technician can evaluate in a day.

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And so far, rats seem to be a promising solution: In the first 16 months of the Maputo program, the rats evaluated samples from roughly 12,500 patients. Of those, 1,700 had been found positive at the health clinics. The rats detected another 764 patients, an increase in detection rate of around 44 percent, according to APOPO.

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