Born in December 2012 in Morogoro, Tanzania, Hamisi is a young, energetic rat that is being trained to detect tuberculosis. HeroRats like Hamisi have saved over 2,900 lives by correctly identifying tuberculosis positive patients that were originally missed by microscopy in local hospitals in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Hamisi is full of energy and loves banana treats as a positive reward for his good work. His hobbies include grooming, tunneling, and the Friday Feast we give him and his friends.
In Tanzania, tuberculosis (TB) is the third major cause of death after malaria and HIV/AIDS. The lack of a fast, efficient and simple TB diagnostic method is one of the main reasons for the fast spread of tuberculosis. APOPO is working towards eradicating TB in Sub-Saharan Africa by training locally available rats, such as Hamisi, to evaluate sputum samples more swiftly and efficiently.
Hamisi will be fully trained in about five months after a rigorous training, and then will be able to evaluate (sniff) more samples in ten minutes than one lab technician can evaluate in one day. Hamisi will screen hundreds of patients every month from sputum samples collected at TB clinics in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. As a result, many TB patients who were first diagnosed as negative by hospitals, would then be identified as positive and can be treated, curbing the spread of TB.
By creating local employment and encouraging development, APOPO provides a cost-effective solution to global humanitarian challenges. The work of our trained rats through fast, effective TB diagnosis means thousands of patients can access treatment sooner, reducing the spread of the deadly virus and limiting the impact on the patient's family and the wider community.