International COVID 19 : An alternative to current testing methods?

Sniffer dogs: An alternative to current Covid-19 testing methods?

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Thailand — Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University veterinary science school has been training to detect coronavirus cases.

These go from capsule to capsule, each containing a cotton pad with sweat samples obtained from high-risk individuals. To enhance the virus detection training, researchers at the university replace older samples with newer ones.

When the trained canine goes through the capsules and finds one containing a sweat sample of a positive individual, it will sit in front of that capsule. To alert its trainer to the Covid-19 positive sample, it does not move from its spot and continues to push its snout at the capsule.

The sniffer dogs made their debut on May 21.

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Professor Kaywalee Chatdamrong, who leads the “K9 Dogs Sniff Covid-19” programme, says that rather than directly identifying the virus, these trained dogs detect volatile organic compounds instead. These compounds are produced by a person’s body after an infected organ metabolises the cell.

Participants in these training programmes put cotton pads between their armpits to absorb the sweat. The cotton pads are then packaged into vials for the training. Some doctors also send samples of volunteers who tested positive for Covid-19 to the university.

Afterwards, the vials are put into metal capsules and delivered to the sniffing rooms.

Photo: YouTube Screengrab/TISG

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Professor Chatdamrong explains that dogs have receptors in their noses that allow them to detect the virus.

A volunteer commented that this detection method could become an alternative for those who are unable to visit testing sites or are apprehensive of current testing measures.

Similar research with sniffer dogs is being carried out in other countries, too.

Researchers from the London School of Tropical Medicine investigated whether dogs could tell if a person was infected by Covid-19 even if they were asymptomatic. The success rate was between 82 and 94 per cent.

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In another similar study, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine trained dogs to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19. In this study, the dogs were able to detect the virus with an accuracy of 96 per cent./TISGFollow us on Social Media

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