There are already dogs that sniff out drugs, weapons, and explosives. And there are even dogs that can detect diseases and illnesses.
But could COVID-19 be next? According to a proof-of-concept study, it’s entirely possible to train animals to detect the novel virus by sniffing human sweat.
The hope is that dogs can be a rapid prescreening in places such as airports. The study, published in the journals Plos, began in the summer.
Researchers in France and Lebanon collected sweat samples from the armpits of 177 patients in four hospitals located in Paris and one in Beirut. 95 of those patients tested positive for the virus, while 82 percent tested negative.
Researchers wanted a mix of samples so that dogs would be challenged to pick the virus-positive ones. The dogs underwent dozens of trials with varying success rates. Two dogs, Jacky and Bella, who were trained in detecting colon cancer, had a 100% test rate for 68 tests.
However, the study reveals there are limitations and further research is required. And the dogs are by no means meant to replace diagnostic testing.