In the UK, a group of researchers say it can train dogs to detect the distinctive odor of the coronavirus, which could aid infection detection efforts .
First, however, the team must verify a key point: that the idea actually works in practice. Also, not all dogs are suitable to be trained for this type of diagnosis.
A matter of smell
Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LHTSM) believe they can train dogs with a particularly keen sense of smell to diagnose people infected with coronavirus, even if they show no symptoms .
The project, which is currently in the crowdfunding process , expects to train and deploy dogs as screeners for people with Covid-19 in just two months. The project is carried out only cocker spaniels and labrador retrievers , which possess an unusually keen sense of smell and the ability to be trained. Some already have experience with detecting malaria.
Dogs are already used to detect the presence of cancers or neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s. Working with the Medical Detection Dogs charity, LSHTM has previously conducted a successful training program that demonstrated that dogs could detect malaria.
The actual source of the detectable odors created by diseases and viruses has not been determined, but equipment that may be related to oxidative stress caused by infections . Oxidative stress can release compounds into the blood, which can be released through respiration and the skin.