A pilot program in Tanzania, is currently using trained giant rats to sniff human sputum samples to detect Tuberculosis (TB). This is a contagious and potentially fatal disease that can affect almost any part of the body but manifests mainly as an infection of the lungs.
These giant rats are said to have improved disease detection by 44 percent, as they find TB that is not detected by conventional testing.
According to the World Health Organization, TB can be difficult to detect under the microscope, and estimates are that 2 billion people around the world are infected with it.
Besides being able to detect TB, these rodents are also good at detecting land mines. In the full article, it is stated that, “Whatever dogs can detect, rats can detect equally well, a rat can be trained for one-fifth the cost. They’re more calm than most small animals, very intelligent and social, and they love humans.”