Can Dogs Detect COVID?
A dog's amazing sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more acute than our own. They have 220 million smell receptors compared to our puny 5 million. Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine are putting this innate talent to work in detecting those with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is believed that these highly trained dogs can identify even those with asymptomatic disease. The dogs are in a six week training program that teaches them to identify the virus-produced odors (volatile organic compounds) from patient's urine and saliva. This is not a recent concept. Dogs have been used successfully in detecting such diseases as cancer, Parkinsons, malaria, tuberculosis, diabetes and others, since the 1980s.
Should the project work according to plan, the dogs could soon be deployed to screen staff at hospitals and care homes and, once regular travel resumes, sniff out unwitting carriers at airports and rail stations. Capable of screening thousands of people per day, the dogs could be a key tool for getting daily life back to normal quickly and safely.