The research conducted at the CSIRO, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and the Australian National University, found that the levels of some undetectable chemicals increased markedly in the breath of the volunteers during the malaria infection.
The increase in the chemicals were present at very early stages of infection, when many other methods would have been unable to detect the parasite in the body of people infected with malaria.
The name malaria originally came from the Italian words for “bad air” as it was thought that malaria was caught from foul smells from the air. But the interesting fact is, the chemical which has been identified now to be present in the breadth of infectious person, foul-smelling compound- albeit, at levels is far too low for humans to smell.
These chemicals have only been detected using very expensive, laboratory based instruments, and only in the breath of volunteers experiencing a controlled malaria infection and the researchers were to test whether the same chemicals can be found in the breath of patients. Also, they were working to develop very specific, sensitive and cheap “biosensors” that could be used in the clinic and the field to test breath for malaria.