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This is the first demonstration of a bodily odor change due to immune activation. The findings, which resulted from a study using lab mice, will appear in the April 10 issue of the journal Physiology & Behavior.
“This work provides further evidence that it is possible to use odors to ‘eavesdrop’ on the immune system, suggesting that non-invasive disease detection may be possible even before the onset of observable symptoms,” said Bruce Kimball, a research chemist with the USDA National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) stationed at the Monell Center. “The results have potential implications regarding disease surveillance in wildlife populations and food safety, bioterrorism and human disease diagnosis.”