Trained dogs may be able to detect coronavirus infection, study suggests

Trained dogs are able to distinguish between samples taken from COVID-19 patients and control samples, indicating they may be able to identify those infected with the new coronavirus, preliminary study findings show.

For the study, German researchers trained eight detection dogs to detect saliva or tracheobronchial secretions of patients infected with the new coronavirus. The training took one week.

They found that the dogs were able to correctly identify 94 percent of the 1,012 samples taken from COVID-19 patients. The samples were distributed at random and neither the dog handlers nor the researchers on site knew which samples were positive for COVID-19 and which were not.

"The results of the study are incredibly exciting," Prof. Holger Volk, PhD, director of the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover Small Animal Clinic. "We have laid a solid foundation for future studies to investigate what the dogs smell and whether they can also be used to differentiate between different times of illness or clinical phenotypes."

Researchers led by the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, in collaboration with the German Armed Forces, the Hanover Medical School and the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, published the study findings in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases.

Other organizations are also researching whether dogs can detect COVID-19 infections, including Philadelphia-based University of Pennsylvania and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom.

More articles on infection control:
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23 staff, 13 patients positive for COVID-19 after Massachusetts hospital employee visits virus hot spot

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