Dogs might be able to sniff out people who have COVID-19

A British charity Medical Detection Dogs has partnered with Durham University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in a medical trial in the training of dogs able to sniff out people who have COVID-19.

The trials are based on the belief that each disease carries a particular odor. Preparations have been started to train dogs so they could be ready in six-weeks to help provide a rapid, non-invasive diagnosis. Dogs are being trained in the same way as the dogs previously trained to detect diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s and certain bacterial infections;  they sniff samples in the training room and later indicate where they found it. These specially trained dogs are also able to detect slight changes in a person’s skin temperature – thus giving anyone a head start when diagnosing the virus at a time it could be the most contagious.

Once trained, the dogs could help identifying travelers entering a country infected with the COVID-19 or in community settings.

“In principle, we’re sure that dogs could detect COVID-19,” stated Dr. Claire Guest, CEO and co-founder of Medical Detection Dogs. “We are now looking into how we can safely catch the odor of the virus from patients and present it to the dogs.

The aim is that dogs will be able to screen anyone, including those who are asymptomatic and tell us whether they need to be tested. This would be fast, effective and non-invasive and make sure the limited NHS testing resources are only used where they are really needed.”

According to the World Health Organization, dogs can not be infected with COVID-19 nor can they carry the virus to humans.

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