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  • Writer's pictureDr Dewan SIbartie

Can dogs be used to detect cases of Covid 19?

Based on a preliminary study carried out by Maison Alfort Veterinary School, dogs can be trained for to detect the virus in people’s sweat within a few days. It is suggested that people affected by the virus has a typical smell detectable by the dog. The moment the dog detects the smell, it just sits down allowing the health worker to detect the affected person.

This test carries promise in that it is over 95% sensitive (proportion of positive cases detected as positive). The specificity (% of negative cases detected as negative) can also be calculated and if both are above 95%, this test will rapidly gain popularity. It costs almost nothing, easier to apply compared to blood testing or detection of the virus in nasal secretions and can be applied in airports or other public places. This would prove useful to Mauritius when our frontiers open.

Ability of dogs to detect viruses is not new. In some countries Beagle dogs have successfully been used to detect avian influenza virus in chicken products by airport Authorities.

The proponents of this Covid test indicate that the virus does not get in touch with the sniffing dog but judging from the attached video, that cannot be completely ruled out.

It is now widely agreed that infected owners can infect their pets especially dogs and cats but the pets cannot transmit the virus to humans. If the sniffing dog gets in contact with the virus, the likelihood of the dog spreading the virus around could become a possibility.

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