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Going Viral: Day 40 under COVID-19 Lockdown

May 8, 2020

As we all know from reading and listening about Covid-19 these past weeks, one of the big issues is trying to figure out who has it, who is capable of transmitting it, and where indeed the bugs for this virus might be lurking.

So, I was more than delighted to read that dogs might be able to sniff out coronavirus – just as they are trained to sniff out some cancers, those carrying drugs, or those trying to snuggle other contraband natural products.

I’m also a huge fan of service dogs having had one pooch, Bear, who was a rascal most of the time but once you put on her service vest, she would turn on the woof charm and was used in a seniors’ care home a couple of times week.

But I digress. Back to the development coming out of Ajaccio, the capital of Corsica, the French island in the Mediterranean Sea. There, dogs are being trained by the emergency services department and the local fire brigade to see if they can detect people who may be infected with coronavirus.

Firefighters in Ajaccio are doing this by using sweat samples from Covid-19 patients who have agreed to be part of the trial.

“Dogs are known for their capacity to recognise other diseases including cancers, such as breast and prostate cancers and even diabetes, although it has not been officially proven,” said Corporal Mar Anto Costa, a firefighter based in Ajaccio. “What remains to be proven is whether the Covid-19 molecule emits a particular odour.”

The samples are placed in particular places to see if the dogs can then detect them.

“It’s simply a plastic tube by which the smell is placed, leaving the smell-emitting molecules,” said Brice Leva, another Corsican firefighter. “And then, with these plastic tubes, we train the dogs.”

If this test is successful and the results are confirmed, it could allow rapid screening very effectively.

Another reason, I guess, why dogs are man’s best friend!

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