Super six: the dogs who might detect Covid-19

Super six: the dogs who might detect Covid-19

Norman, Digby, Storm, Star, Jasper and Asher are ready to be assessed to work on a project to train dogs to detect the Covid-19 virus.

According to charity Medical Detection Dogs, who will train the dogs that pass the assessment, if successful these super sniffers may be able to detect Covid-19 in as little as 6 to 8 weeks – making them a valuable asset to precent further spread of the pandemic in future through quick and non-invasive diagnosis.

“Once trained, the super six could lead the way for dogs to be used to identify travellers entering the country infected with the virus or be deployed in other public spaces,” a Medical Detection Dogs statement reads.

“The potential recruits could not be more different in terms of background and character, with half of them being rescue dogs, but they could all be life-savers.”

Cocker Spaniels Norman, Jasper and Asher are rescues; Norman and Jasper joined Medical Detection Dogs from animal charity Wood Green, whereas Asher was rehomed several times due to his high drive and sensitive nature after a rough start in life. He now lives with the CEO of Medical Detection Dogs, Dr Claire Guest.

Claire says, “Our aim is that some of these amazing  six dogs will be able to passively screen any individual, including those with no symptoms, and tell our dog handlers whether they have detected the virus.  This will then need to be confirmed by a medical test.

“We will train them in the same way we train our other Bio Detection Dogs, in our training room, and then transfer them to detecting on individuals in a similar way to our Medical Alert Assistance Dogs.”

Medical Detection Dogs are working in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Durham University for this project; the collaborators have launched a crowdfunder to start raising funds for the preliminary stages of this project.

Image by Medical Detection Dogs

Alessandra Pacelli

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