A recent study found that dogs trained to sniff out the coronavirus infections did so with 94% accuracy, and researchers are hoping the method could soon be implemented to prevent future outbreaks at mass gatherings.
In the study, published by BMC Infectious Diseases and led by University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, researchers trained eight German Armed Forces “detection dogs” for one week to detect human saliva secretions of SARS-CoV-2 in infected patients.
The detection dogs were then presented with 1,012 randomized samples, to test whether they were able to discriminate between samples of infected (positive) and non-infected (negative) individuals.
In the end, the dogs were amazingly able to discriminate with an “overall detection rate of 94%,” giving “157 correct indications of positive, 792 correct rejections of negative, 33 incorrect indications of negative incorrect rejections of 30 positive sample presentations.”
According to PBS, dogs have smell receptors between 10,000 and 100,000 times more powerful than humans, meaning they can detect a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water or a rotten apple in 2 million barrels.
If analogized to vision, researchers say, it means that what humans can see at a third of a mile, a dog could see more than 3,000 miles away with clarity.
CNBC reported that researchers hope that detection dogs could be one day be used in public areas such as airports and at large gatherings such as sporting events in order to prevent further spread of the virus.
In a YouTube video about the study, Maren von Koeckritz-Blickwede, a study researcher and professor at the university, said the dogs were able to successfully detect the samples because the metabolic processes of an infected person “completely change.”
“We think that the dogs are able to detect a specific smell of the metabolic changes that occur in those patients,” she said.
Researchers say the next step would be to train dogs to differentiate between the coronavirus samples and other infectious diseases such as Influenza.
Diagnoses by dog noses – Dogs can sniff out patients with COVID-19