London: It is no secret that dogs have an unnaturally strong sense of smell and now this same prowess is being used to help detect COVID-19. One of the forerunners for this experiment is a charity in Britain which has been intensively train dogs so they could be ready in six weeks to help sniff out the deadly virus. Also Read - Stray Dogs Involved in Transmission of Novel Coronavirus That Causes COVID-19? Here's What Experts Think
The organisation named Medical Detection Dogs, which was set up in 2008 to harness dogs’ sharp sense of smell to detect human diseases, started working on the project late last month. In its training centres, dogs are being intensively trained to sniff out samples of the virus, and indicate when they have found it to receive a treat. Also Read - Can Dogs Really Sniff Out Asymptomatic Coronavirus Patients?
As per reports, the approach is based on a belief that each disease triggers a distinct odour, which canines are uniquely well-placed to smell. More so, dogs are also capable of detecting subtle changes in skin temperature, potentially making them useful in determining if a person has a fever.
The charity has previously worked with its dogs to detect cancers, Parkinson’s disease and bacterial infections using samples taken from patients.
“We believe dogs can detect COVID-19 and will be able to screen hundreds of people very, very rapidly so we know who needs to be tested and isolated,” Claire Guest, founder and chief executive of Medical Detection Dogs, told AFP.
“We have evidence that dogs can detect bacterias and other diseases, so we believe that taking this project forward will make a huge difference to the ability to control COVID-19 spread,” he added.
If the training is successful, these canines could be deployed at airports to identify people carrying the virus.