Home Feature Dogs could be the next coronavirus hunters.

Dogs could be the next coronavirus hunters.

by Yucatan Times
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There is a good chance that COVID-19 has a specific odor. If so, dogs will be able to learn the smell and detect it.

(London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) Scientists in London say dogs could revolutionize the search for COVID-19 by sniffing out the subtle odors produced by the virus when it’s inside the human body. That could be considered the “next step” in the fight against the COVID-19. Carriers of the coronavirus, especially the asymptomatic, are the biggest obstacle in managing the pandemic.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) is collectively funding a project to train canines to detect healthy-looking people who may not realize they are carriers. If the project is successful, animal detectives could be working throughout the UK by summer.

“These are very early stages,” said James Logan, director of LSHTM’s Department of Disease Control. “We know that diseases have odors, including respiratory diseases such as influenza, and that those odors are, in fact, quite different. There’s a perfect chance that COVID-19 has a specific odor, and if it does, I’m confident that dogs will be able to learn the smell and detect it”.

Dogs with a highly developed sense of smell are already being used to diagnose many medical conditions, including Parkinson’s disease and several types of cancer. LSHTM has trained animals (Labradors and Cocker Spaniels tend to be particularly good) to detect malaria. Its success rate far exceeds the standards required by the WHO, the center said.

If the project works, dogs could be deployed to “scan” hospital and nursing home staff and, once travel resumes, sniff out unwitting carriers at airports and train stations.

Capable of “scanning” thousands of people each day, dogs could be a vital tool in getting daily life back to normal quickly and safely.


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