These dogs are trained to sniff out the coronavirus. Most have a 100% success rate

  1. Buffaloed webmaster

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    These dogs are trained to sniff out the coronavirus. Most have a 100% success rate

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    Shutterstock

    Susan Hazel and Anne-Lise Chaber

    What does a pandemic smell like? If dogs could talk, they might be able to tell us.

    We’re part of an international research team, led by Dominique Grandjean at France’s National Veterinary School of Alfort, that has been training detector dogs to sniff out traces of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) since March.

    These detector dogs are trained using sweat samples from people infected with COVID-19. When introduced to a line of sweat samples, most dogs can detect a positive one from a line of negative ones with 100% accuracy.

    Across the globe, coronavirus detector dogs are being trained in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Belgium.

    In the UAE, detector dogs – stationed at various airports – have already started helping efforts to control COVID-19’s spread. This is something we hope will soon be available in Australia too.

    A keen nose

    Our international colleagues found detector dogs were able to detect SARS-CoV-2 in infected people when they were still asymptomatic, before later testing positive.

    When it comes to SARS-CoV-2 detection, we don’t know for sure what the dogs are smelling.

    [​IMG]

    On average, dogs have about 220 million scent receptors.
    Shutterstock

    The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) given off in the sweat samples are a complex mix. So it’s likely the dogs are detecting a particular profile rather than individual compounds.

    Sweat is used for tests as it’s not considered infectious for COVID-19. This means it presents less risk when handling samples.



    Read more:
    Explainer: what's the new coronavirus saliva test, and how does it work?



    COVID-19 sniffing dogs in Australia

    Here in Australia, we’re currently working with professional trainers of detector dogs in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. The most common breed used for this work so far has been the German shepherd, with various other breeds also involved.

    We are also negotiating with health authorities to collect sweat samples from people who have tested positive to the virus, and from those who are negative. We hope to start collecting these within the next few months.

    We will need to collect thousands of negative samples to make sure the dogs aren’t detecting other viral infection, such as the common cold or influenza. In other countries, they’ve passed this test with flying colours.

    Once operational, detector dogs in Australia could be hugely valuable in many scenarios, such as screening people at airports and state borders, or monitoring staff working in aged care facilities and hospitals daily (so they don’t need repeat testing).

    To properly train a dog to detect SARS-CoV-2, it takes:

    • 6-8 weeks for a dog that is already trained to detect other scents, or
    • 3-6 months for a dog that has never been trained.

    Could the dogs spread the virus further?

    Dogs in experimental studies have not been shown to be able to replicate the virus (within their body). Simply, they themselves are not a source of infection.

    Currently, there are two case reports in the world of dogs being potentially contaminated with the COVID-19 virus by their owners. Those dogs didn’t become sick.



    Read more:
    Hong Kong dog causes panic – but here's why you needn't worry about pets spreading COVID-19



    To further reduce any potential risk of transmission to both people and dogs, the apparatus used to train the dogs doesn’t allow any direct contact between the dog’s nose and the sweat sample.

    The dog’s nose goes into a stainless steel cone, with the sweat sample in a receptacle behind. This allows free access to the volatile olfactory compounds but no physical contact.

    Furthermore, all the dogs trained to detect COVID-19 are regularly checked by nasal swab tests, rectal swab tests and blood tests to identify antibodies. So far, none of the detector dogs has been found to be infected.

    Hurdles to jump

    Now and in the future, it will be important for us to identify any instances where detector dogs may present false positives (signalling a sample is positive when it’s negative) or false negatives (signalling the sample is negative when it’s positive).

    We’re also hoping our work can reveal exactly which volatile olfactory compound(s) is/are specific to COVID-19 infection.

    This knowledge might help us understand the disease process resulting from COVID-19 infection – and in detecting other diseases using detector dogs.

    This pandemic has been a huge challenge for everyone. Being able to find asymptomatic people infected with the coronavirus would be a game-changer – and that’s what we need right now.

    [​IMG]

    A COVID-19 detector dog enrolled in the NOSAIS program led by professor Dominique Grandjean and Clothilde Julien from the Alfort Veterinary School (France).


    A friend to us (and science)

    Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised about dogs’ ability to detect COVID-19, as we already know their noses are amazing.

    Dogs can help detect hypoglycaemia in diabetics, warn people who are about to have an epileptic seizure and have been used to sniff out some cancers.

    Their great potential in dealing with the current pandemic is just one of myriad examples of how dogs enrich our lives.

    We acknowledge Professor Riad Sarkis from the Saint Joseph University (Beirut) and Clothilde Lecoq-Julien from the Alfort Veterinary School (France) for first conceiving the idea underpinning this work back in March.[​IMG]

    Susan Hazel, Senior Lecturer, School of Animal and Veterinary Science and Anne-Lise Chaber, One Health Lecturer, School of Animal and Veterinary Science

    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
     
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  2. Sojourn Registered User

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    That is both awesome and cool.
     
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  3. CanadianSharks Registered User

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    What in the...

    I do not know what to say.

    This is great. Extremely weird though. Then again, we all live in a weird world now.
     
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  4. Leafmealone11 Registered User

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    Armed groups with dogs rounding up the sick?
    That seem a little dark and not cool, so they will have gaurds with inimadation dogs at places forever now?
     
  5. Chainshot Give 'em Enough Rope Sponsor

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    Not surprising considering they can train dogs to detect cancer.
     
  6. Rants Mulliniks Registered User

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    They already use dogs to detect cancer and such. There's actually people who have the ability to smell certain sicknesses as well.
     
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  7. LT Dan Undocumented User

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    wow
    I guess there is always one who sees some kind of negative in everything
     
  8. JacketsFanWest Registered User

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    More than likely these types of dogs would be used at airports like dogs who detect produce being smuggled into the country. The breeds used for that type of work is usually beagles or labradors which don't seem intimidating.

    The question is what happens if they alert to someone being sick since it's not the same as someone happens to have forgotten they packed some fruit in their bag for the flight and didn't eat it. That person is potentially contagious. Who approaches them? What if they don't want to tested or quarantined? Should everyone on the flight be quarantined?

    It also could be used to screen people going into a stadium or arena for a large event, but there would need to be security personnel practically in hazmat suits ready to deal with anyone who the dogs alert to. But there might be issues with people who are pissed off they can't go in. And what happens with false alerts? The dogs might be more accurate than rapid tests which have a 30% failure rate.
     
  9. Leafmealone11 Registered User

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    Well they randomly use dogs at airports they don’t line people up and intimidate them every single time.
    And sporting events and the border...basically any time you go to a public event you are lined up and made to pass the police checkpoint with their dogs, random places on the sidewalk....
    I am not sure you understand what living.in a police state turns into but look at the issues already going on.
     
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  10. Leafmealone11 Registered User

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    This isn’t everything this would be people being subjected to searches and harassment any time they went into public. Read a book and study history check points with dogs is a large large step in removing people’s freedoms and I hope it never comes to this because they will not return people’s rights to move freely
     
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  11. Sojourn Registered User

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    You're diving deep into the conspiracy side of things now.

    This is a good thing. It doesn't mean armed police, with Malinois or Dutch Shepherd's walking throughout the airport, and pulling them into a dark room for interrogation. It means health checkpoints, at the worst, where they can take your temperature(which is only a symptom some of the time, and not for asymptomatic cases), or have a dog give you a sniff. And those dogs don't even need to be police/military dogs. They just need to be trained for scent detection, and there are a lot of breeds(very un-intimidating breeds) that are very, very good at it. If they can increase detection of COVID-19, and help mitigate the spread further, how is that a bad thing? If you had a positive COVID-19 test, you shouldn't be traveling, right? So, how is this different?
     
  12. Leafmealone11 Registered User

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    ‘Health checkpoints’ and who do you think will be running these? Security and police it is too dangerous to try and stop some people from moving around in public.
     
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  13. Sojourn Registered User

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    Ideally, healthcare professionals, but the fact that people will resist means they will definitely need to be assisted by police and/or security.

    And, again, there is nothing wrong with any of this. If you are positive for COVID-19, you wouldn't be able to travel. Why is this any different? You haven't actually answered that. This isn't a Star of David being worn on your arm, okay? It's an infectious disease that we're trying to get a handle on. You aren't put into an interment camp, where you're asked to wait for the remainder of the pandemic. You're reaching.
     
  14. LT Dan Undocumented User

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    I read a lot . You obviously read the wrong books. they use trucks and jeeps at check points, should we be afraid of those?
    What about spotlights?

    You are seeing the worst potential in this

    These are potentially accurate free COVID tests a great way to mitigate
     
  15. Leafmealone11 Registered User

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    When they announce they might be setting up jeeps and trucks as checkpoints to stop people from moving freely yes you should be worried. I’m seeing it for what it is. Absolute best case is we are all treated like a bunch of sick criminals that have no freedom and are subject to harassment any time we go somewhere, worst case....I will leave that up to your imagination, reality would be somewhere in the middle.
     
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  16. TaLoN Red 5 standing by

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    Pretty big leap from using these dogs at airports where security checkpoints already exist and are used for traveler safety to using them at random checkpoints on the road with jeeps and trucks.

    One is likely and should happen. The other is a completely absurd idea in the first place.
     
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  17. Sojourn Registered User

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    When you pass through a scanner at the airport, does that make you feel like a criminal? And if so, why? When you put your bags on the belt to get scanned, does that make you feel like a criminal? And if so, why?

    That isn't harassment. It's safety. Just like the scanner at the airport. Going through that scanner is insurance for the safety of people in the airport, and on the flights.
     
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  18. LT Dan Undocumented User

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    LOL , wow

    These are all of the places that uses are mentioned in the article .

    That is some serious 1984 shit right there, I tell you Hwat
    [​IMG]




    In all seriousness, how is this any different from places taking your temperature before you are allowed to enter?
    Or Imagine if this was so accurate that it could eliminate quarentines?
    Or seriously help slow the spread>
     
    Last edited by moderator TaLoN: Aug 25, 2020
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  19. Sojourn Registered User

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    Aged care facilities is a very smart use for the dogs. Hospitals would be too, for similar reasons.

    As are airports, which are locations where people can spend hours at surrounded by many other people, who all then fly all over the world. It's exactly the kind of location that you'd want to monitor to help mitigate spread.

    It may also be the kind of tool that helps allow larger scale events to take place. Think about that for a moment. The tool that is being argued by this individual as an attempt to remove freedoms would actually be one of the greatest tools to allow for more freedoms.
     
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  20. LT Dan Undocumented User

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    Exactly

    Especially the care homes. I have a friend that works at one and is tested every 3 days
     
  21. Chainshot Give 'em Enough Rope Sponsor

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    It would be awesome to have canine sniffers providing instant knowledge of asymptomatic individuals as a way to return to having larger social gatherings. Heck, finding a way to get asymptomatic folks ID'd helps promote public health in general. I fail to see a downside in that.
     
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  22. Sojourn Registered User

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    There is one downside.

    You can't pet the dogs. :oops:
     
  23. LT Dan Undocumented User

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    I have the same issue with service dogs.

    Life is a big petting zoo to me and i have to remind myself that they are working dogs
     
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  24. Sojourn Registered User

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    100%. They're often such handsome dogs too, and I just want to go over and say hi and love on them a bit, but it's not appropriate.
     
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  25. Chainshot Give 'em Enough Rope Sponsor

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    True, true. I have a friend who fosters and trains dogs who worked at a local airport with one of her pups, with the pup serving as a stress animal. People would seek them out to pet as a way of handling their fear of flying.

    Anyway, back to the topic at hand, a non-invasive method of ID'ing the asymptomatic remains a boon for public health. Our canine companions never cease to amaze me.
     
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