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Sniffer Dogs Could Replace PCR Tests

Miguel Albuquerque admitted to journalists today, that as part of the Regional Governments plan to combat the pandemic, sniffer dogs may be used at the airport to detect passengers infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  The idea he said, is still embryonic but would provide a cost effective, workable solution.

On the 3rd of November 2020, an working groups attended an online workshop called ‘International K9 Team’ to discuss the results of  an experiment which used specially trained dogs to detect Covid in 1,680 passengers.  Of this, the dogs correctly identified 158 Covid positive passengers, these results were then confirmed through a standard PCR test.  The results were good, in 100% of cases the dogs detected those not infected with the virus, and 92% of those suffering from Covid-19.  Furthermore, the dogs were able to detect those who were carrying the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but who had not developed any symptoms or illness.

Dogs have 300 million scent receptors, whereas humans have around 5-6 million.  This enables them to detect odours that humans cannot.  Although researchers cannot say what odour or compound the dogs can smell, it is generally believed that those suffering from illnesses such as cancer and malaria excrete Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) which the dogs can be trained to detect, and it is believed that viral infections such as Covid also cause the body to release VOC’s.

Therefore, using dogs, would be a cost effective and non intrusive way of identifying and protecting the island against the virus. In addition, with the number of abandoned dogs and puppies on the increase, some of these could be selected and trained to be potential SARS-CoV-2 sniffer dogs, thus enabling them to lead full and active lives.

Samantha Gannon

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Photo: Luzelle-Cockburn Unsplash

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