Tracking dogs are trained to recognize COVID-19

17 Jun 2021Updated: 4 hours ago | 52 people are reading

Tracking dogs are trained to recognize COVID-19

© Lonely Planet Detection dogs are trained to recognize COVID-19

London is investigating whether detection dogs can be used to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. If the dogs can be successfully trained to detect the virus in humans, it can be very useful at airports or other points of entry.

A team from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Medical Detection Dogs and Durham University are leading the study and have already collaborated to prove that dogs can be trained to detect malaria. They are working to train dogs intensively to help make a quick, non-invasive diagnosis of the virus, and believe that the dogs could complement ongoing tests by screening the virus accurately and quickly and possibly up to 250 people per hour to be tested.

Currently six dogs are trained - Norman, Digby, Storm, Star, Jasper and Asher - half of which are rescue dogs. The approach to training is the same as the method used to detect diseases such as cancer, Parkinson's and bacterial infections. The researchers must determine whether COVID-19 has a specific odor and then train the dogs to sniff samples and indicate which ones contain the disease or infection. They are also able to detect subtle temperature changes of the skin, so they may be able to tell if someone has a fever.

'The samples the dogs are trained in the center have been deactivated ( death) virus and therefore do not pose a risk to the dogs or trainers, ”said Dr. Claire Guest, CEO and co-founder of Medical Detection Dogs. "When sniffing people, the dogs do not have to make contact, but will smell the air around a person. The dogs will therefore not be in direct contact with the screened humans to avoid the risk of the virus spreading. "

A fundraising campaign has been launched to assist in the investigation. Once trained, the researchers believe the dogs can be used at entrances or used in other public areas. "If the research is successful, we can use COVID-19 detection dogs at the end of the epidemic in airports to quickly identify people with the virus," said Professor Steve Lindsay of Durham University. "This could help prevent the disease from spreading again after we control the current epidemic."

Opening image: yanjf / iStock