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Dogs Are Being Trained To Detect Coronavirus In Humans

A dog training to detect scent – Penn Vet

In an effort to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, dogs are being trained in the United States to detect Covid-19 in humans.

In the trial programme by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, eight dogs will be trained over the course of three weeks to sniff out coronavirus from urine and saliva samples.

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Dr Cynthia Otto, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a statement, that dogs already have the ability to sniff out other dangerous conditions. Dogs have 50 times the smell receptors of humans (300 million versus 6 million).

“Scent detection dogs can accurately detect low concentrations of volatile organic compounds, otherwise known as VOCs, associated with various diseases such as ovarian cancer, bacterial infections, and nasal tumours. These VOCs are present in human blood, saliva, urine or breath,” she said.

Dr Otto added that “the potential impact of these dogs and their capacity to detect COVID-19 could be substantial. This study will harness the dog’s extraordinary ability to support the nation’s COVID-19 surveillance systems, with the goal of reducing community spread.”

This is not the first study to see if dogs can be trained to smell coronavirus in patients

In the United Kingdom, in a collaboration between the Medical Detection Dogs charity, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Durham University, six dogs are being trained. The dogs will receive samples of fabric worn by coronavirus patients to see if the virus has a unique odour which they can detect which could allow them to screen people

In France, eight dogs are being trained to detect a possible smell of the virus, according to a research by Professor Dominique Grandjean of the National Veterinary School of Alfort, near Paris.

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