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Group Attempts To Train Dogs To Sniff Out Coronavirus

For centuries, when humans have wanted something done that they cannot hope to do by themselves, they call in a dog.

That age-old pattern is repeating itself now, as one group is hoping that dogs can be trained to sense the presence of the coronavirus in individuals who may not know they are carriers.

A British charity called Medical Detection Dogs has previously trained dogs to react to scents caused by the presence of malaria, cancer and Parkinson’s disease, according to a news release from the group.

The group’s premise is that in its reaction with the body, a disease causes a specific odor that a dog can be trained to identify.

In its test to determine whether dogs can sniff out the coronavirus, the group will work with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Durham University in northeast England.

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“In principle, we’re sure that dogs could detect COVID-19,” Dr. Claire Guest, who runs Medical Detection Dogs and founded the group, said.

In the past, dogs have sniffed a sample of infected tissue. That’s a challenge with a highly infectious disease.

Do you think this sounds like a feasible idea?

The first order of business, Guest told AFP, is to “safely catch the odor of the virus from patients.”

“We are now looking into how we can safely catch the odor of the virus from patients and present it to the dogs,” she said.

“The aim is that dogs will be able to screen anyone, including those who are asymptomatic, and tell us whether they need to be tested,” Guest added.

Dogs would allow for more people who are not ill to be tested, she said, thus letting health resources be focused on those with the greatest need, according to the BBC.

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“This would be fast, effective and non-invasive and make sure the limited [National Health Service] testing resources are only used where they are really needed,” Guest said.

Does it really work? Professor James Logan, head of disease control at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is a believer.

He said the ability of dogs to accurately detect people with malaria was “above the World Health Organization standards for a diagnostic.”

“We know that other respiratory diseases like COVID-19, change our body odor so there is a very high chance that dogs will be able to detect it,” he said in the news release.

“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.”

Professor Steve Lindsay of Durham University’s Department of Biosciences said detection dogs could be used at airports.

“This would help prevent the re-emergence of the disease after we have brought the present epidemic under control,” he said, according to the BBC.

The group said that dogs are also able to detect what it called “subtle changes in temperature of the skin,” which could alert health experts that an individual has a fever.

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Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack can be reached at jackwritings1@gmail.com.
Location
New York City
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Topics of Expertise
Politics, Foreign Policy, Military & Defense Issues




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