People with malaria give off a distinctive "breath-print" that could be used as a test for the disease, according to American scientists.
They had already tried out a crude prototype breathalyser in Africa, a tropical medicine conference heard.
The test was reasonably good at detecting cases in children, but needs developing to become a routine device.
One of the odours it sniffs out is identical to a natural smell that attracts insects that spread malaria.
Pine trees and conifers emit these terpenes to summon mosquitoes and other pollinating insects, say the researchers, from Washington University in St Louis.
They believe people with malaria who have this odour in their breath may also attract mosquitoes and infect more of the biting insects, which can then spread the disease to other people that they bite.
Although the test needs perfecting, it could offer a new cheap and easy way to help diagnose malaria, Prof Audrey Odom John and colleagues say.
The prototype breath test detects six different odours or volatile organic compounds to spot cases of malaria.
The researchers tried it on breath samples from 35 feverish children in Malawi, some with and some without malaria.
It gave an accurate result in 29 of the children, meaning it had a success rate of 83%.
This is still too low for the test to be used routinely, but the researchers hope they can improve its reliability and develop it into an off-the-shelf product.
Simple, rapid blood tests for malaria are already available, but they have limits, say the Washington University researchers.
Testing blood can be expensive and technically challenging in rural settings.
A non-invasive method of detection that does not require blood samples or technical expertise could be of great benefit.
Prof James Logan from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said: "The rapid detection of asymptomatic malaria is a challenge for malaria control and will be essential as we move towards achieving the goal of malaria elimination. A new diagnostic tool, based on the detection of volatiles associated with malaria infection is exciting."
He said more work was now needed to see if it could be made into a reliable test.
The findings are being presented at this year's annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
- Tetteh Quarshie – East Legon road to be closed for 2 days
- I’m not foolish to set up Komenda Sugar Factory without plans for raw materials – Mahama
- It’s ridiculous to claim I’ve been paid to fight anti-LGBT Bill – Akoto Ampaw
- UK MP Sir David Amess dies after stabbing
- It’s lame if my visa denial is associated with anti-LGBTQI+ Bill – Alhassan Suhuyini
- Photo of the week: Squatter threatens to beat public officer
- ‘I’ve never declared support for Alan Kyeremanten’ – Osafo Maafo denies viral social media post
- Anti-LGBTQI+ bill: Voting will not be done via secret balloting – Deputy Minority Whip reveals
- Increased fuel prices: We must not tamper with recess of MPs – Kwaku Kwarteng on calls for Parliament to resume
- LGBTQ+ activities an attack on our culture; we’re not ready to accept it – Ayikoi Otoo
Police conclude investigations into murder of final year student of Oppong Memorial SHS
It is not right for Ghana to retaliate – International Relations Consultant on Suhuyini’s botched visa application
LGBTQ visa ‘sabotage’ against MPs: We’ll address allegations when Parliament resumes – Okudzeto Ablakwa
Denying visa’s over anti-gay bill a grave affront on our sovereignty – Okudzeto Ablakwa
FDA recalls certain batches of Ceres 100% apple juice
The quest for peace in Ghana must be a shared responsibility – Asantehene
‘Small beginnings are important’ – Ken Ofori-Atta on life before politics
‘I’ve never declared support for Alan Kyeremanten’ – Osafo Maafo denies viral social media post
CAF Champions League: What is at stake for both Hearts and Samuel Boadu?
Tunisian, Tanzanian and Zambian Initiatives win ATU’s Africa-wide Competition Building Youth ICT Innovation Ecosystems
Take out emotions and sentiments from Anti-LGBTQI+ discourse – Majority Leader
2020 election petition verdict was predetermined – Mahama
Excessive sleep, loss of appetite, all signs of depression – Expert
MTN Ghana Foundation supports liberated Trokosi girls with startups and seed capital
Lifebuoy hosts ‘World’s Largest Classroom’ to help teachers, parents relearn H stands for Handwashing