Can Dogs Help Detect COVID-19 in Asymptomatic Patients?

Some leading workers reported experiencing the smell of COVID-19 as they entered patients’ rooms.

dogs detect covid-19 shutterstock_523799860 (1)
The smell of COVID. Photo/Shutterstock

Whether dogs can detect COVID-19 in asymptomatic patients depends on whether the novel coronavirus has a distinctive odour. 

  • But can COVID-19 be detected by smelling with the help of our canine brothers?
  • In Japan, for example, dogs have identified stomach cancer by smelling urine samples.
  • In the Gambia, malaria can be detected by smelling the feet of people with dogs.
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One of the biggest challenges with COVID-19 is identifying asymptomatic carriers. That is individuals who carry the virus, but do not show any symptoms but continue to spread the disease to others.

Now the fight against the pandemic may be getting some help from our sharp-nosed canine dogs who science is yet to prove whether they can detect COVID-19.

But can COVID-19 be detected by smelling with the help of our canine brothers? Not as crazy as this.

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Strict olfactory

Dogs have a very pungent odour, thanks to their highly sensitive noses. There are only about 6 million olfactory senses in the human nose and about 300 million in dogs.

Also, dogs have a second odour receptor that humans do not have, which is called vomeronasal . This element at the base of their nasal passages is powerful enough to detect a spoonful of sugar in two Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Naturally, people have put a high sense of smell of dogs to work for years. Many police departments use hooks to clear drugs or explosives. Meanwhile, fire departments are working to expel dogs from smoke, harmful gases and human bodies.

Also, dogs have already entered the medical field. Doctors have trained dogs to smell the symptoms of dangerous diseases before they are exposed to patients.

In Japan, for example, dogs have identified stomach cancer by smelling urine samples. In the Gambia, malaria can be detected by smelling the feet of people with dogs.

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The smell of COVID

Whether dogs can detect COVID-19 in asymptomatic patients depends on whether the novel coronavirus has a distinctive odour. But Dr James Logan, head of the Department of Disease Control at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is already on trial.

Logan has partnered with medical diagnostic dogs , a team that trains canine to sniff certain diseases. Previously, some leading workers reported experiencing the smell of COVID-19 as they entered patients’ rooms.

While these reports have not been proven, they do give researchers hope when they explore the possibilities.

Researchers have sent restricted facemasks, socks and stockings to more than 3,000 leading workers in the UK. Workers will wear these clothes and allow their body odour to absorb.

Then, they send the clothes back to the research team and they give them to an elite dog detective. If COVID-19 has a distinctive odour and dogs can successfully identify items worn by those infected with the virus, the test will move on to its next stage.

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For now, dogs are still the best companions if you are fighting the virus. Raising an animal will release a hormone called oxytocin into your brain, which will lift your spirits and make you feel loved.

Musasi Isaac Christopher

An aspiring Lifestyle blogger who specializes in health, food and restaurant sectors. WhatsApp me on +256759100143.

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