Trained dogs are able to detect other medical conditions, including diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, malaria and even cancer.
Since there is a, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, non-profit medical detection organizations and the University of Durham said they “have started to intensively prepare dogs so that they are ready in six weeks”.
“Our previous work has shown that dogs can detect human odors with a malaria infection with extremely high accuracy – above the standards of the World Health Organization for diagnosis,” said Professor James Logan in a Press release.
Logan noted that the use of odor detection for COVID-19 is still in its infancy and that scientists do not yet know if the disease even has a specific odor, “but we do know that other respiratory diseases modify our body odor, so there is a chance that it does. “
If it works, the researchers believe that dogs could be used to supplement ongoing testing efforts and could help “triage” up to 250 people per hour with non-invasive testing.
Medical Detection Dogs, a UK-based charity that works with dogs to help detect illnesses or manage life-threatening medical conditions, says dogs will be trained in the same way as other detection dogs. First, they sniff samples in a training room and indicate when they have found the scent they are looking for.
Then the dogs would be responsible for detecting the smell on people, functioning as a medical alert service dog, the charity said on social media. Medical Detection Dogs also shared a link to the crowdfunding website that the research team is using to help launch this project. On Thursday, their campaign had 102 contributors and raised $ 5,260.
The goal is to allow dogs to detect the virus, even in asymptomatic people, to determine if they should be tested, said Dr. Claire Guest, CEO and co-founder of Medical Detection Dogs, in the press release.
“In principle, we are sure that dogs could detect COVID-19,” said Guest. “We are now looking at how we can safely capture the smell of the virus from patients and present it to dogs. “
Dogs can also detect subtle changes in skin temperature, which means they could potentially know if someone has a fever, the researchers said. They suggest that trained dogs could be used at travel checkpoints to identify if people entering the country have a fever.
If the research is successful, dogs could be used to help prevent a re-emergence of the coronavirus after controlling the current epidemic, said Professor Steve Lindsay of the University of Durham in the press release.
CBS News has contacted the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Medical Detection Dogs for more information.