Researchers are training dogs to detect Covid-19

Hyperaxion Mar 31, 2020

The animals are already able to accurately identify diseases such as malaria, above the standards of the World Health Organization.

In addition to drugs and explosives, it has long been known that sniffer dogs are capable of detecting, through smell, diseases such as cancer, diabetes or malaria. And a team of researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Medical Detection Dogs is trying to teach them a new trick: detecting Covid-19.

Researchers are training dogs to detect Covid-19
Certain diseases alter the odor of our body, a change that can be identified by the sensitive snouts of sniffer dogs. (Credit: iStock).

The research is based on the fact that certain diseases alter the odor of our body, a change that can be identified by the sensitive snouts of sniffer dogs. “Our previous work has shown that dogs can detect odors from humans infected with malaria with extremely high accuracy – above World Health Organization diagnostic standards,” says Professor James Logan, head of LSHTM’s Disease Control Department.

“We know that other respiratory diseases, such as COVID-19, alter body odor, so there is a very high chance that dogs will be able to detect them. This new diagnostic tool could revolutionize our response to COVID-19 in the short term, particularly in the coming months, and be profoundly impactful.”

The sniffer dog helps in solving police cases and in several other situations.

According to the researchers, Springer Spaniel dogs would be able to analyze 250 people per hour. Training is done in the same way as for the detection of other diseases: presenting samples to dogs and teaching them to identify which ones are infected.

According to Dr. Claire Guest, CEO and co-founder of Medical Detection Dogs, “The goal is for dogs to be able to analyze anyone, including those who are asymptomatic, and let us know if they need to be tested. This would be quick, effective and non-invasive and will ensure that the limited testing resources of our healthcare system are used only where they are really needed.”

Related topics:

Coronavirus Covid-19

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