Dogs could be used to “sniff out” COVID-19,media CNET reported. The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine said Tuesday it is launching a study that uses odor-test dogs to distinguish between samples of POSITIVE and negative PATIENTs.
The study will start with eight dogs who will be exposed to saliva and urine samples from COVID-19-positive patients in a laboratory environment over a three-week period. After the dogs were trained, the researchers will note that the dogs can distinguish between positive and negative samples in the lab. This will lay the groundwork for testing whether they can identify people infected with COVID-19.
“The potential impact of these dogs and their ability to detect COVID-19 can be significant,” Cynthia Otto, director of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Working Dogs Center, said in a press release. “This study will use the extraordinary capabilities of dogs to support the national COVID-19 monitoring system, with the goal of reducing community transmission. “
Dogs can play a key role in disease detection because they have as many as 300 million olfactory receptors (compared with 6 million in humans). Odor detection dogs can capture low concentrations of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, associated with diseases such as ovarian cancer, bacterial infections and nasal tumors. These VOCs are found in human blood, saliva, urine, or breathing. Dogs will play a role in detecting asymptomatic patients, or in hospitals or commercial environments where testing is difficult. Initial screening of humans through trained dogs could begin as early as July.