Truffles, ghosts and now malaria: things dogs can sniff out

Man’s best friends have long been put to work, and a recent medical study has shown hounds can be trained to smell malaria in children. Is there anything they can’t do?

Truffles, ghosts and now malaria: things dogs can sniff out

Malaria is a disease with many identifiable symptoms, including sweating, vomiting and bloody stools. However, forget the traditional signs, because dogs can apparently smell it on you. The annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in New Orleans has just revealed that a labrador and a labrador-retriever cross were recently trained to detect malaria in children by sniffing nylon socks in a jar.

This is not only an extraordinary medical breakthrough, but it reinforces the notion that all dogs are very good boys indeed. It means that we can tick off malaria from the list of things that dogs can identify with the 220m olfactory receptors in their noses. Here is that list.