July 30, 2021

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Study Reveals Dogs Have the Ability to Sniff Out Positive Samples of the Coronavirus

3 min read
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Just recently, a new proof-of-concept study was conducted in the State of Israel, which revealed that dogs with special training in medical detection can identify positive samples of the coronavirus. The study further revealed that a man’s best friend can do this with an accuracy of around 96%.

The research was conducted by professionals employed at the Working Dog Center of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. They were able to conclude that dogs can be given the training to recognize the urine samples, as well as the saliva of the patients who had previously contracted the novel coronavirus. 

After the research was peer-reviewed, it was published on the website of the Public Library of Science. 

The researchers added in the study that a different odor is emanated from the coronavirus infection found in the saliva and urine of the patients. This smell allows chemical, biological, and electronic sensing methods to screen the odor. 

However, professionals have speculated that this training for dogs could also be concerning. Because the ultimate goal is to medically train these dogs to identify patients who have contracted the coronavirus in a public setting, rather than from samples, they will have to be around COVID-positive people. Thus, this kind of training could be dangerous for the animals. 

Furthermore, researchers stated that they were concerned about the method used to provide samples to train the dogs. They said that it is possible that the animals may get used to only a specific type of sample, rather than catch on to the trademark scent of a sample taken from a coronavirus patient. 

The study stated that the future investigation into chemical, electronic, and biological detectors, as well as the medical training of man’s best friend, should lay emphasis on increasing the number of novel and relevant samples. 

The researchers noted that the ideal situation would be if these samples were used when training the dogs to sniff outpatients who have tested positive for the coronavirus. 

This study is not the first to point towards the notion that medically trained dogs can be used to detect the coronavirus. In fact, the relevant authorities consider utilizing sniffer dogs as a potential method of identifying the infection in public areas, before they can safely reopen international travel. 

Back in February, a veterinary clinic in Germany was able to train sniffer dogs to recognize the novel coronavirus present in samples of human saliva. The commending moment was that these medically trained dogs did so with an accuracy of 94%.

The head of the veterinary clinic, Holger Volk, expressed his joy at the success of the experiment. He added that dogs do have the ability to identify people who have contracted the deadly disease. Moreover, a man’s best friend can also sniff out symptomatic, as well as asymptomatic patients. 

Even in Finland, dogs were given the training to identify the novel coronavirus by being provided with samples at the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport in the country. This project began last September along with the rise in coronavirus testing there. As of now, even the international airport in Santiago, Chile, is utilizing canine detectors. 

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