Dogs can sniff out COVID-19 with 94 percent accuracy, study says
Man’s best friend could soon be man’s best chance at ever setting foot in a stadium again.
Dogs can sniff out the coronavirus with a striking 94 percent accuracy rate — raising the possibility of instant tests at sporting events and airports, according to a new study.
Canine handlers trained eight dogs from Germany’s Armed Forces to discern human saliva infected with COVID-19 from healthy saliva, according to the study, which was lead by the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover and the Hanover Medical School.
Researchers then set up samples from 1,000 people at random, ordered the dogs to pinpoint the infected ones — and found the animals were accurate 94 percent of the time, according to the study.
The pooches were able to make the potentially life-saving distinction because the virus likely “completely changes” an infected person’s internal chemistry — giving their saliva a different scent, said one researcher involved.
“We think that the dogs are able to detect a specific smell of the metabolic changes that occur in those patients,” Maren von Koeckritz-Blickwede, a professor at the university who conducted the study, said in a Youtube video about the experiment.
The study raises hope that dogs could help prevent outbreaks through the use of lightning-fast testing at sporting events and airports and other mass gatherings, researchers said.
During the study, the dogs were trained for one week before learning to sniff out the illness with remarkable accuracy, according to researchers, who also used “respiratory secretion” samples. The study doesn’t note what breed of dogs were trained but Labrador retrievers appear to have been involved.
Dogs can smell up to 10,000 times more powerfully and accurately than humans and have shown in past studies they can detect diseases such as malaria and cancer.
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