Tracking dogs can become a new ally in the coronavirus war by identifying infected people – before they show symptoms
- Specially trained animals could identify those who carry coronavirus, experts say
- They can identify them before they show symptoms, at A & Es and UK airports
- Trained dogs can pick up chemicals called volatile organic compounds
- We hope that dogs can be trained to detect the deadly virus within a few weeks
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Sniffer dogs might turn out to be an unlikely weapon in the fight against Covid-19.
Experts believe that specially trained animals can help identify people who carry the deadly virus – even before they show symptoms – outside A&E Hospital or when landing at UK airports.
Trained dogs can pick up chemicals called volatile organic compounds linked to specific diseases from samples of breath, urine and faeces.
Rhinoplasty: Springer Spaniel Freya, who was trained and used by researchers to detect malaria
They have already been used by researchers to identify malaria, some cancers and Parkinson’s.
Professor James Logan, head of the disease control department at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says, “We know that other respiratory diseases change our body odor, so there’s a good chance that dogs can detect this virus. .
“If this could become a diagnostic tool, it has the potential to revolutionize our response to Covid-19.”
We hope that dogs can be trained to sniff it within a few weeks. Dr. Claire Guest, director of the Medical Detection Dogs charity, says, “There’s no reason this shouldn’t work for Covid-19.
A K9 police unit tracking dog checks a van at a checkpoint on March 27, as a 21-day coronavirus lock occurs in Cape Town, South Africa (file photo)
“It would be fast, effective and non-invasive, ensuring that the limited NHS test drugs are used only where they are really needed.”
The dogs should be ready in just six weeks.
Initial investigators must determine how to safely capture samples of the virus from patients infected with Covid-19 so that it can be used to train the animals.