An experimental study has shown that specially trained dogs can smell the smell of patients infected with the coronavirus.
The work was published in the PLOS One magazine. It is known that dogs can detect various types of explosives, minor traces of narcotic substances. With their help, they carry out searches and rescue operations. There is evidence that these animals can even detect cancer in their owner.
Scientists from France and Lebanese have shown that specially trained dogs can also smell people who have contracted the coronavirus. The experiment involved 177 people (about half of whom were sick with Covid-19) and six professional dogs trained for this kind of training.
Some of the dogs passed this test 76 percent and some 100 percent. In each session of the experiment, samples with the smell of sweat from healthy and sick people were placed in special containers, which were shown to each of the dogs simultaneously. Neither the trainer nor the animal knew in advance which of the containers the “infected” sample would be.
However, scientists still do not fully understand what exactly the four-legged assistants are “sniffing out.” However, they believe that after the coronavirus enters our body’s cells, it breaks down certain molecules that enter the environment through sweat, breath, saliva, and other body fluids, forming volatile organic compounds.
They are probably caught by the supersensitive canine nose, which has up to 300 million olfactory receptors (for example, humans have only about six million of them). Much the same happens when dogs “detect” certain types of cancer. Scientists point out the shortcomings of their research: the same samples were sometimes shown to dogs several times.
So they could remember the “correct” answer. However, even those animals that smelled sweat for the first time, for the most part, correctly determined the presence of traces of the virus in it. Experts say more research is needed, but there is already reason to believe that dogs can replace the long and costly testing procedure for COVID-19 in public places, such as airports.