Dogs sniffed out COVID-19 more accurately than some lab tests, study finds

FILE – A Bristol County Sheriff’s Officer drives his Covid K-9 fighter to sniff a hallway at Wood Elementary School in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, U.S., Wednesday, January 19, 2022. (Allison/Bloomberg dinner via Getty Images)

A recent study conducted in France found that trained dogs were able to detect COVID-19 as well as, or better than, a regular COVID-19 lab test.

The study results, which were published in the peer-reviewed journal Plos One on June 1, showed dogs detected the virus with 97% to 100% accuracy by smelling a participant’s sweat.

To compare, the nasal swab COVID-19 tests that were used in the study were only 84% accurate when compared to results obtained from dogs.

The researchers conducted the experiment at the Alfort School of Veterinary Medicine using dogs loaned from a French fire department and the UAE Interior Ministry.

A total of 335 adults (143 symptomatic and 192 asymptomatic) participated in the experiment. Using the nasal swab test, 109 out of 335 adults tested positive for COVID-19 and of those 109, 31 were asymptomatic.

Dogs were less accurate in detecting patients who tested negative for COVID-19 compared to lab tests (90% versus 97%), but just slightly less, according to the study.

The study authors claimed that the results of the experiment could provide a faster, less invasive alternative to detecting COVID-19, but noted limitations such as the limited supply of properly trained dogs and fear. of some participants towards animals.

“Further studies will focus on direct dog sniffer to assess sniffer dogs for mass pre-testing at airports, ports, train stations, cultural activities or sporting events,” the researchers said.

It was also noted that the dogs were appropriately rewarded with toys and their welfare was “fully respected”.

Dogs and detection of COVID-19 in the United States

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, the Bristol County Sheriff‘s Office has become the first in the United States to deploy COVID-sniffing K-9s to the area.

14-month-old Labrador Retrievers ‘Huntah’ and ‘Duke’ work weekly at 15 Bristol County schools searching and searching for the scent left behind by COVID-19.

“It gives the community a sense of a bit more security and knowing that at least if my child is going to school or my husband is working in an area, they won’t bring COVID home because the forces law enforcement are proactively looking to disinfect where these things might appear,” Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson told Fox News in an interview in January of this year.

Dr. Kenneth Furton, founder of the COVID K-9 detection program at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, has spent much of his life researching canine olfaction. He wasted no time when the pandemic hit in March 2020, measuring a dog’s reliability at detecting COVID with a pure chemical called the Universal Detection Calibrator (UTC).

“So we found on average that the dogs are 97.5% accurate, which is actually higher than the PCR tests,” said Dr Furton, who is also the CRF provost. He thinks the COVID K-9 dogs have the potential to spread to other industries that expect large gatherings.

“If you were to have people checked by dogs on a cruise ship, you would immediately detect if they have COVID, without testing a few days before,” he said. “So here you have a big advantage in that regard.”

In 2021, Early Alert Canines, located in Concord, California, started a pilot program with the California Department of Health and the Association of Public Health Laboratories to detect COVID-19 from socks worn by previously infected patients.

Experts explained that in a human, most of the smell comes from the head, armpits, groin and feet.

“And looking at those options, we settled on the feet,” explained Early Alert Canines General Manager Carol Edwards.

Dogs do not sniff out the virus itself. Instead, their sense of smell picks up on the chemical changes bodies produce when fighting COVID.

A dog’s sense of smell is 100,000 times more sensitive than a human’s, according to the American Kennel Club. This super nose makes dogs the perfect tools for sniffing out bodies, drugs, and just plain reliable companions when trained properly to take on the tasks at hand.

FOX News and KTVU contributed to this report. This story was reported in Los Angeles.

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