Canines are well known for their incredible sense of smell. Now, sniffer dogs are being trained to detect the coronavirus.
If successful, ‘man’s best friend’ could play a vital role in slowing the spread of the disease.
They could potentially be sent into communities to conduct testing. And they could also be stationed at places like airports and other mass transit locations.
Working dogs are already being used to sniff out an amazing array of items, from land-mines to narcotics and contraband goods, to diseases.
This statement on the SPCA website gives a good idea of just how powerful a dog’s nose is.
“Canine noses are beneficial for many reasons. Their noses can find bodies, dead or alive, by following the scents of shed skin flakes, sweat droplets and scent mists for as long as 105 hours and as far as 135 miles away. Their great sense of smell can also detect seizures, skin cancer cells, drugs, toxic wastes, etc.”
“A high chance that dogs will detect the coronavirus”
The Medical Detection Dogs organization in Milton Keynes, England are working with Durham University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) to train sniffer dogs to be capable of detecting the coronavirus.
“We know that other respiratory diseases, like COVID-19, change our body odour so there is a very high chance that dogs will be able to detect it,” explained James Logan of the LSHTM.
“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.”
Medical Detection Dogs currently have canines which have already been trained to identify diseases such as malaria, cancer, Parkinson’s and other bacterial infections.
It’s estimated that it will take around six weeks to train the dogs to identify the coronavirus. One of the challenges will be to devise a method in which the dogs can go about their work safely.
The dogs will be able to detect the virus even in people who are not exhibiting symptoms, it is believed.
They are also expected to be able to pick up small changes in external body temperature. This might indicate a fever, one of the coronavirus symptoms.
Image Credit: James Logan