Rummage for covid-19 | EOS Science


We have known for a while that our four-legged friends are exceptionally good at detecting odors. For example, the police use detection dogs to detect drugs or explosives, but these waggers have also shown several times in health care that they are useful as a warning system for various diseases. Specially trained dogs, for example, manage to detect low blood sugar in diabetic patients. And now they also appear to be able to detect the corona virus.

A few months ago the question already arose whether dogs can smell the coronavirus. This led to several studies that have yielded positive results. In a recently published his eight detection dogs have been trained for a week to detect saliva from corona-infected patients. And with their fine detectives the dogs managed to distinguish between infected or healthy samples.

The dogs can also distinguish between sweat from corona patients and sweat from people who do not have the coronavirus among the members. For example, a second, which has yet to undergo peer review, shows that the dogs can identify corona patients on the basis of their sweat, even before they show symptoms. Worldwide, dogs are now being trained in various places to see what their role can be in the detection of corona. The dogs are already being used in Dubai and at Ghent University and Durham University (United Kingdom) they are also working hard on the training of dogs.

“The research is going well, and the dogs are more than ready for the corona samples,” said Gemma Butlin, who is involved in Durham University’s research. As soon as we receive the test material, we will know in about six weeks whether our dogs can detect the smell and to what accuracy levels. The next phase will be to deploy dogs in public areas such as airports, hopefully by the end of the year. ”

Microbiologist Jean-Luc Murk (Elisabeth-TweeSteden Hospital): ‘I think it’s a very nice experiment. I do have doubts about the applicability of the research. Although the dogs are doing quite well, the performance of the current laboratory tests is better and the tests are getting faster and faster. The positive thing about this message is that if a ‘real nose’ can do this, an ‘electronic nose’ or a device that analyzes particles in the air, it should be able to do that. ‘

It remains to be seen whether we will soon be ‘sniffed’ at the airport in the Netherlands and Belgium. The investigations are still in progress. Ghent University is currently still looking for test subjects who want to donate their sweat, and a few administrative steps are still required. At the end of August, the university hopes to deploy the dogs.


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