A team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania is trying to determine whether dogs can sniff out coronavirus so that a future outbreak can be prevented. Researchers have selected Labrador breed for this study as they have very powerful noses.
The vitality of canine surveillance units
Pennsylvania researchers have selected eight labrador dogs for this experimental project, and they believe that successful completion of this study could help to develop canine surveillance units in airports, hospitals, and other public settings to detect people contracted with coronavirus.
It should be noted that highly trained labrador dogs are capable of detecting drugs, explosives, and various diseases. Scientists believe that this peculiar capability of dogs can be used effectively to detect subtle differences in patient samples.
"We don't know that this will be the odor of the virus, per se, or the response to the virus, or a combination. But the dogs don't care what the odor is. What they learn is that there's something different about this sample than there is about that sample," Cynthia M Otto, Director of the Working Dog Center at Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine told Washington Post.
The hardest part of training dogs
Otto revealed that the hardest part in training these labradors is to make them detect coronavirus while the pathogen is inside a human. "That's going to be the next proof of concept: Can we train them to identify it when a person has it and that person's moving? Or even standing still?" added Otto.
The United States is one of the worst affected nations hit by the coronavirus outbreak, and as per the latest updates the pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 61,600 people. The total number of COVID-19 patients is also increasing dramatically in the United States, and this count has already crossed one million. In the meantime, US President Donald Trump has claimed that the number of coronavirus positive cases in the country is increasing just because the detection tests conducted are much higher when compared to other nations.