In a study of Finnish scientists clear about the definition of that dogs find COVID-19 at the smell, in scientific circles someone responds enthusiastically, and some skeptical. Although the acute instinct of dogs is known to all, writes DW.
The authors of the new research were experts from the University of Helsinki: they were the first to train medical dogs that are used in the formulation of certain diagnoses and the definition of pneumonia COVID-19. After a few weeks of training dogs smell different from urine of patients with coronavirus and without it the error rate was minimal.
“We have been training dogs, using them to detect a number of diseases, says Anna helm, Brakman, specializing in the study of this subject in the veterinary faculty of the University of Helsinki. But this time was especially gratifying to see how quickly the dogs learned to recognize typical COVID-19 smell”.
According to Finnish scientists, the accuracy of determination of the disease through medical dog is almost the same as with normal used now tests for coronavirus.
If COVID-19 for the dogs themselves?
The experience of researchers in Helsinki is very important for other professionals who work with animals — especially in the UK and France, which is now also trying to use dogs for large-scale screening of infected with coronavirus.
Colleagues in Germany, too, are watching the experiment with interest, but with some caution.
“No one can yet say whether the procedure of training, analyses of infected patients, the risk for humans and animals, says Luca Baret (Barrett Luca) of the German specialized center dedicated to training dogs (Deutsches Assistenzhunde-Zentrum). — Until now, German virologists warned us against this. So before you start training with us, we want to gather more information”.
Meanwhile, Finnish scientists are already moving into the next phase of the study, when the identification of the coronavirus will be conducted on a large number of cases. And only after successful completion of this phase will discuss the use of dogs in working with patients with COVID-19.
From COVID-19 has a characteristic smell
While scientists still do not know exactly what substance in the urine of patients “signal” the dog of the presence of coronavirus infection. It’s pretty easy to figure out — especially given the fact that SARS-CoV-2 affects not only the lungs but also blood vessels, kidneys and other internal organs infected.
German experts also recognize that some illnesses have a specific marker — a special odor that trained dogs recognize quite precisely.
“Breast cancer dogs determined with an accuracy of 93%, says Mr. Baret, and lung cancer — 97%!”
With high precision dogs can smell skin cancer, stomach and prostate.
Service dogs in hospitals and airports
Compared to man, dogs have a much more delicate sense of smell. So, the person has 5 million cells, trapping odors. The fees of their — 125 million from the shepherd — 220 million! Training taken usually Labradors, retrievers, Cocker spaniels or shepherds, and animals trained on a single scent. It could be drugs, explosives or a marker of disease. After the animal during the training recognized the smell, you hear a click and the dog gets a reward in the form of her favorite treats.
Medical dogs already today “work” in hospitals and clinics, but on the whole quite rare. As a rule, their owners just help to medical institutions on a voluntary basis. In scientific circles there are both supporters and strong opponents of using dogs to diagnose patients. In any case today, even after the discovery of a suspicious odor dog requires more research — and only then the patient is brought to the final diagnosis.
However, dogs trained to identify COVID-19, while planning to use not so much in hospitals as in airports. This will allow you to conduct an initial “inspection” of arriving passengers, and even those of them who will allocate a service dog, and will send for tests for coronavirus.
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