Dogs successfully trained to detect asymptomatic cases

Dogs successfully trained to detect asymptomatic cases

A trained dog sniffs a sample of sweat during the testing. (Photo taken from Chulalongkorn Univesity's journal website)
A trained dog sniffs a sample of sweat during the testing. (Photo taken from Chulalongkorn Univesity's journal website)

A research team at Chulalongkorn University has successfully trained six sniffer dogs to detect people infected with Covid-19 who do not show symptoms.

The trained dogs were ready to be sent to airports to support Covid-19 screening there.

According to Chulalongkorn University's journal website, the six Labrador retrievers, trained by researchers at the university’s Faculty of Veterinary, had a 94.8% accuracy in detecting asymptomatic cases.

Prof Kaywalee Chadarong, deputy dean of the faculty and head of the research team, said dogs’ noses were 50 times more sensitive than humans in detecting the smell.

The six retrievers were chosen as they had long nasal cavities and were excellent sniffers. They are also friendly and easily trained, she said.

Samples of sweat from infected people were collected. Cotton buds and socks were used to absorb sweat under the subjects’ armpits. The samples were then put in a biosafety laboratory and then put in a can for the dogs to sniff.

“When he kneels down, it means that the sample is from an asymptomatic person.

“All testing process is safe for the dogs and staff involved," said Assoc Prof Somporn Techa-ngamsuwan, a veterinarian in infectious diseases and a member of the research team.

The project carried out for six months and divided into three stages. The first stage involved the training of the dogs to distinguish the smell of infected people. Border patrol police and PQA Associates Co helped trained the dogs, she said.

The second stage was putting the canines to work at airports, ports and popular tourist venues. The trained dogs were sent to sniff people's feet. 

The third stage was the development of a sensor device to detect people at risk of infection.

The project is a joint effort between the Veterinary, Medicine and Science faculties of Chulalongkorn University with Chevron Company providing the funding.

A research team from Chulalongkorn University and people involved in the training of six sniffer dogs for Covid-19 detection. (Photo taken from chula.ac.th)


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