New research shows COVID sniffing dogs can detect virus with up to 94% accuracy

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) — Video from a UK study shows a dog named Millie sniffing out COVID 19 samples. She is one of six dogs trained as part of the study conducted by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the charity Medical Detection Dogs, and Durham University.

Researchers found the dogs were able to detect the virus odor with up to 94% accuracy, even if the patient was asymptomatic and with two different strains. The concept is very interesting to Glen Golden, a research scientist at Colorado State University.

“They are able to detect the metabolic response to being infected,” Golden said.

Golden was not involved in this research, but he has conducted his own research with dogs.”We started training dogs to detect avian influenza in 2018,” he said.

During his research he found some ferrets were able to detect the virus even before a medical test. Golden hopes more research will be done with dogs and COVID. “I feel that it could be very useful,” he said.

Researchers say more study is needed, but it’s possible COVID sniffing dogs could be used more often in large venues or airports. Models show two dogs could screen 300 airline passengers in 30 minutes. A hit would mean that person needed a PCR test.

Golden says it’s important to make sure the dogs do not get sick, and that they can stay motivated.

“We need to understand how to keep these animals motivated, and able to work for long periods of time in the detection of COVID in an airport or stadium situation. There’s fatigue that can set in,” he said.

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