Coronavirus: Dogs can detect Covid-19 infection by armpit scent

WIKIMEDIA COMMONSBelgian Malinois shepherd dogs were used to sniff the armpits of more than 360 subjects for Covid-19. (File photo).Dogs are able to detect the presence of Covid-19 on infected patients by sniffing their armpits, according to a new study by French scientists. Researchers at the national veterinary school in Alfort, outside Paris, trained eight Belgian Malinois shepherd dogs to identify people infected with the coronavirus from odour samples taken from the armpits of more than 360 subjects, both healthy and suffering from Covid-19. The dogs’ overall success rate was 95 per cent, according to a paper published on Friday on, a preprint website that posts studies that have not been peer-reviewed. “We conclude that there is strong evidence that dogs can detect a person infected by the virus responsible for Covid-19 disease,” said Professor Dominique Grandjean, who was on the team. READ MORE: * Virus dogs to sniff out carriers before they show symptoms * Coronavirus: Dogs are being trained to sniff out Covid-19 cases * Dogs detecting invasive fish to help our waterways * Funding for Waikato research in to dogs’ ability to sniff out cancer A dog’s nose is around 100 million times more sensitive than a human’s, according to Science magazine, and previous studies have shown they can sniff out a variety of diseases, including cancer, diabetes and Parkinson’s. The dogs came from emergency services departments in Paris and Corsica, as well as a dog training centre in Beirut, Lebanon, and had been trained for search and rescue missions, detecting explosives or sniffing out colon cancer.Amber KearnsPepper, a 4-year-old miniature pinscher, puts her best paw forward for a game of tic tac toe during the lockdown. Researchers homed in on armpits because their smell contains a strong chemical signal indicating a possible pathogen in the body, but not the virus itself, meaning they pose “minimal or zero” risk to the animal. There have been rare cases of dogs catching Covid-19 from humans. The dogs were first familiarised with the odour of Covid-19 and trained to sit when they encountered it. The sweat samples were then used to soak pieces of cotton wool, which were placed inside metal cones. When sniffing these, four of the animals achieved a perfect score. The others achieved an accuracy rate of between 83 and 94 per cent. In one startling outcome, two of the dogs indicated a positive result for samples scientists were told had come from people not infected with the virus. “The tests were redone and the results came back positive,” the report said. The dogs were apparently more effective than the hospital tests.The Telegraph
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