Tuberculosis detection operations by trained sniffer rats began in Maputo, Mozambique in early 2013. For the first phase of operations, eight HeroRATs will analyze over 560 samples of human sputum per week.
The Mozambican staff and equipment are ready for the exciting start of APOPO’s new arm of TB operations. Local staff from the country’s capital city of Maputo, have started working with the animals. The staff were trained at APOPO’s TB headquarters and research facility in Morogoro, Tanzania, by a team of senior lab technicians and animal handlers, before they were sent to work in the Maputo facility.
APOPO has partnered with eight local health centers in Mozambique which will provide the samples. The rats will then serve as second line screening for the centers, which check for TB under a microscope. This is APOPO’s second location for TB operations and marks the first international expansion of the TB Program.
Mozambique has a very high burden TB and co-infection, where a patient has both TB and HIV. It is often difficult to diagnose TB in HIV patients, and TB is a leading cause of death for people infected with HIV. APOPO Mozambique TB Program Manager Emilio Valverde, “Mozambique withstands a terribly high burden of TB. This is particularly serious in HIV patients, accounting for a 16% of the Mozambican population. My personal hope is that APOPO rats can contribute to alleviate this burden in a short term."
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