For twelve years, Medical Detection Dogs (MDD), a UK organization which trains dogs to detect a growing list of diseases, has worked closely with researchers and doctors to help develop their dogs as diagnostic tools and patient aides. From cancer to diabetes, Addison’s disease to malaria, they have trained hundreds of dogs to use their noses and provide early warning to patients. Since the charity’s founding in 2008, their work has been the foundation for dozens of peer reviewed studies about the efficacy of dogs, or specifically dogs’ acute sense of smell, in early detection of asymptomatic disease.
Now they’re joining the fight against COVID-19.
“We know that other respiratory diseases like COVID-19, change our body odor so there is a very high chance that dogs will be able to detect it. This new diagnostic tool could revolutionize our response to COVID-19 in the short term, but particularly in the months to come, and could be profoundly impactful,” writes Dr. Claire Guest, one of the principal members of the charity.
Guest’s own medical detection dog, Daisy, detected her then-unnoticed breast cancer two years after she helped found MDD. She credits Daisy with saving her life.
“If the research is successful, we could use COVID-19 detection dogs at airports at the end of the epidemic to rapidly identify people carrying the virus. This would help prevent the re-emergence of the disease after we have brought the present epidemic under control,” commented Steve Lindsay, a professor at Durham University, which has partnered with MDD to train a number of dogs for COVID-19 trials.
“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,” Guest also wrote on the MDD website.
Source: Good News Network