The recent studies showed that COVID-19 infection is able to be detected by dogs. These animals could be trained to sniff out signs of the novel pathogen, NewAtlas reports. The accuracy is rather high, 94 percent.
The researcher team from the University of Hanover, Germany found that with little training, sniffer dogs were capable of identifying positive COVID samples with a high degree of accuracy, about 94 percent. The research was published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases.
In fact, the nose of dogs is an extremely useful tool, and people used to train dogs for finding landmines, for instance. The incredible sensitivity of dogs’ noses has seen scientists look to use them for all kinds of purposes, including detecting cancer, malaria, and explosive devices.
By exposing the animals to samples in a room and teaching them to distinguish between those that are infected and those that aren’t, the hope is that dogs can become a powerful screening tool in public spaces to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
To investigate these possibilities, the German scientists have formed a group from eight specialized sniffer dogs. The researchers spent one week training the animals to distinguish between samples infected with SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus strain that causes the disease COVID-19, and uninfected controls.
During the unusual experiment, some 1,012 saliva and tracheobronchial samples were collected, with the dogs then tasked with identifying those that were infected with SARS-CoV-2. The samples were randomly distributed so neither the researchers nor the dog handlers knew which were positive.
It is amazing but the dogs correctly identified 157 positive samples and 792 negative samples, while incorrectly identifying 33 negatives and incorrectly rejecting 30 positives.
All up, the team notes this makes for an average sensitivity (detection of positives) of 83 percent, an average specificity (detection of negatives) of 96 percent and overall average detection rate of 94 percent.
“The results of the study are incredibly exciting,” says study author Professor Holger Volk. “We have created 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. ”