COVID Sniffing Dogs: Studies Show Bio Detection Dogs Can Identify the Virus
Studies say that dogs can detect the COVID-19 virus and COVID variants in humans accurately.
Dogs are known for sniffing out bombs, contraband drugs and certain medical conditions like cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson's disease in humans. This process is termed as 'bio-detection'.
Studies have helped to prove bio-detection can also be used to detect COVID-19 virus. Researchers found out dogs can identify biomarkers related with COVID-19 virus with 97.5% accuracy, reports The Guardian.
Dogs have a smelling sense which is up to 100,000 times more sensitive than humans. This is why they are present in schools, airports and concerts - to alert if anything is wrong.
Now they can also be used to detect the virus in humans.
Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic in 2020, researchers have been exploring if dogs could help in the fight against the virus. Their studies met with success in the recent months.
Studies that Prove Dogs Can Spot COVID Virus in Humans
Scientists at Florida International University conducted a study with four puppies.
In late 2021, they published a double blind study of canine COVID detection which proved that the puppies were able to identify the virus with a 97.5% accuracy, reports The Guardian.
“It’s one of the highest percentages I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been doing this work for over 25 years with all kinds of detector dogs. It’s really remarkable.”Dr Ken Furton, FIU’s leading scholar in forensic chemistry specializing in scent detection, reports The Guardian.
Another research conducted in the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine discovered dogs could identify COVID-19 virus about 82% to 94% of the time.
A recent German study proves that the dogs are able to detect the virus around 95% of the time, which is quite beneficial.
Dr Ken Furton says dogs can successfully identify all COVID-19 variants as they are capable of generalizing odors.
The US government's National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) said, dogs are famous for their ultrasensitive olfactory system. They can detect substances with as low concentrations as 1.5 parts-per-trillion, reports India Today.
This is the reason why bio-detection dogs can sniff and tell when a person is infected with the COVID virus.
Training Bio Detection Dogs to Recognise COVID-19 Virus
As new variants of COVID-19 like Omicron are emerging frequently, the Ohio-based Bio-Detection K9 company, led by Jerry Johnson started training dogs to identify the virus.
A team of 14 dogs were trained to sniff the hands and feet of humans, as more sweat glands are present in these regions, in order to identify COVID. This was before Omicron came into existence.
However, in case of Omicron, since the infection is causing less effect on the lungs, dogs need to sniff their worn masks, reports The Guardian.
The dogs are able to screen between 200 and 300 people every hour with breaks every 20 minutes.
In Massachusetts, USA, COVID-19 sniffing dogs are trained to identify the present of the virus in school children, reports India Today.
The Austrian Army has also reported that they are training dogs to sniff the virus, however they will not be extensively deployed.
(Written with inputs from The Guardian and India Today.)
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