Researchers have found that the viruses have specific odors, and they believe it would not be surprising if these animals became experts at detecting SARS-CoV-2.
Researchers at universities in the United States and the United Kingdom have set out to train dogs to detect odors associated with the new coronavirus in potential carriers, in an effort to help prevent a future outbreak, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
At the University of Pennsylvania, eight Labrador retrievers are already being trained for this purpose. The researchers selected this breed because of its powerful sense of smell, which could be used in a kind of “dog watch” body to prevent the spread of pathogens.
Experts have found that the viruses have specific odors, according to the director of the Center for Working Dogs at Penn College of Veterinary Medicine, Cynthia M. Otto. “We don’t know if it will be the smell of the virus itself, or the response to the virus, or a combination of both,” she said. Otto explains that dogs learn to differentiate the odor between one sample and another.
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In the first phase of testing the puppies are learning to identify the smell, and then they will be trained using fluid samples collected from COVID-19 patients. The final and most difficult stage of the experiment will be to teach them to detect the virus in people.
Meanwhile, the University of London’s department of disease control is conducting similar research. Meanwhile, the University of London’s department of disease control is conducting similar research. University representative James Logan says these animal-based coronavirus detectors could be a “new diagnostic tool that could revolutionize our response to COVID-19.
According to the specialist, each dog is capable of detecting up to 250 people per hour. He also said that his team is working on a model that can be implemented at ports of entry, including airports in several countries.
In the past, dogs have been trained to detect drugs, explosives, malaria, cancer, and even bacteria, so it would not be surprising if they became experts in identifying SARS-CoV-2, according to the scientists.