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Once the rats open their eyes at the age of four weeks, they are socialized to interact with people and get used to the various stimuli of our world.
The click sound is established as a conditioned reinforcer associated with a food reward. Once the rat learns that click means food, it will now have to keep its nose above a hole beneath which a positive sputum samples is placed, to earn this reward.
The rat is offered a choice between positive and negative sputum samples placed under three sniffer holes. Only when it pauzes above the positive sample, the click and food treat will teach the rat this was the correct response.
The rat will move to a larger cage which holds sample bars with each 10 samples under sniffing holes in a long stainless steel plate. In this training stage, the rat learns to evaluate large numbers of samples.
APOPO's TB rats must pass an internal accreditation process before working under operational conditions. The test is conducted under blind conditions and to pass the rat must find every positive patient.