German veterinary clinic trains dogs to detect Covid-19 by smell

By - World Healthcare Journal

German veterinary clinic trains dogs to detect Covid-19 by smell

Trained dogs at one of the world’s top universities for veterinary medicine can detect Covid-19 with a high accuracy rate. The study found that the dogs only needed to be trained for one week to able to differentiate between carriers of the virus and non-carriers.

The study was done with eight specialised scent-detecting dogs that are part of the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces. After their training, the dogs were subjected to random samples of both infected and healthy saliva, and were able to detect 94 per cent of 1,012 samples correctly.

Dogs are able to do this due to their excellent olfactory or sense of smell system. They can have up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to humans who only have around 6 million. This means that dogs can smell and detect about 50 times better than humans can.

“Dogs’ scent detection is far better than the general public can imagine. Nevertheless, we were amazed how fast our dogs could be trained to detect samples from SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals,” says Dr Esther Schalke, a veterinary behaviourist and dog trainer at the Bundeswehr School of Dog handling.

This isn’t the first time that dogs have been used to detect illnesses in humans, however. A study in 2006 found that, when trained to do so, dogs could detect cancers based on breath. The study found that the dogs could accurately predict breast cancer with an 88 per cent accuracy and lung cancer with a 99 per cent accuracy. What’s more, dogs have also been found to be able to detect malaria, and bacterial and viral infections.

The Covid-sniffing canines are planned to be used in concentrated public areas, such as airports, borders, and other mass gatherings. Recently, the dogs were used at a Miami Heat basketball game in the United States, to screen individuals entering the arena.

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