TB detection process

Due to their unique speed and sensitivity, the APOPO TB Detection Rats (HeroRATs) significantly increase the detection rate of people with tuberculosis. APOPO has raised the number of TB-positive patients found by over 40% in the clinics where it works.

Patient tested at local TB clinic

Patients with suspected tuberculosis leave sputum samples at their local clinic to be checked by conventional microscopy. In some developing countries this method identifies less than half of the actual TB-positive patients.

Sputum sample collection

After clinic testing, APOPO couriers arrive to collect both TB-positive and TB-negative samples.

APOPO’s City Centre Laboratory

The samples are transported from clinics throughout the city to APOPO’s central lab for 12-hour testing.

Samples are made safe

On arrival, the samples are made safe using heat treatment. This ensures that any TB-Positive sputum is not contagious for trainers and HeroRATs alike.

TB Detection by HeroRATs

HeroRATs hover over suspect-TB samples for 3 seconds. If it is a TB-positive ‘control’ sample, the rat receives a reward. This keeps them accurate and eager to find tuberculosis in all the samples.

HeroRATs find TB-Positive samples missed by clinics

The HeroRATs also detect tuberculosis in samples marked negative by the clinics. One rat can check a hundred samples in less than 20 minutes, a task that would take a lab technician up to 4 days.

APOPO Lab confirm rat findings

All rat-positive samples are confirmed in APOPO's lab using WHO endorsed methods.

Patients informed and treated

APOPO then reports the results back to the clinic within 24 hours so that patients can be informed and start immediate treatment.