For centuries, dogs noses have been used to scent out everything from prey to vermin, bees to truffles. And occasionally disease. In over 2000 scientific studies since the 1980s, dogs have been shown to be able to detect cancer, diabetes, and infection with sharp accuracy.
So of course, while the world waits breathlessly for more tools to use against COVID-19, there are those who are looking to dogs again.
A study at the national veterinary school in Alfort, France just outside Paris has trained eight dogs to identify the smell of a COVID-19 infection in human sweat. Armpit perspiration was swabbed from 168 people who had tested positive for COVID-19 but were not ill enough to require hospitalization. The dogs, all of them Belgian Malinois shepherds, already had training in scent identification, trained either for explosives, cancer, or search and rescue.
Samples of infected and uninfected perspiration were placed in jars, with funnel tops allowing the dogs to sniff close to the samples. In 95 percent of the trails, after a control run, the dogs correctly identified the infected sample among the group. Four of the eight dogs identified the correct sample each and every time.
This is a small-scale test, but the results are promising. Testing is vitally important to maintaining low numbers of the disease, and using dogs would mean that many, many people could be swiftly tested, even in crowds such as the lines at an airport, seating in a sporting event, or just shopping for groceries.
“The results of this first proof of concept study demonstrate that COVID-19 positive people produce an axillary sweat that has a different odor, for the detection dog, than COVID-19 negative persons,” write the authors of the study.
“In a context where, in many countries worldwide, diagnostic tests are lacking in order to set up a mass detection of COVID-19 contaminant people, we think it is important to explore the possibility of introducing dog olfactive detection as a rapid, reliable and cheap “tool” to either pre-test willing people or be a fast checking option in certain circumstances.”
Source: Good News Network