An elite team of experts from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine begun preparations to intensively train dogs so they could be ready in coming weeks to help provide a rapid, non-invasive diagnosis towards the tail end of the epidemic, Your Content has learned.
The researchers believe that the dogs could supplement ongoing testing by screening for the virus accurately and rapidly, potentially triaging up to 750 people per hour.
Professor James Logan, Head of the Department of Disease Control at LSHTM and Director of ARCTEC, says: “Our previous work demonstrated that dogs can detect odours from humans with a malaria infection with extremely high accuracy – above the World Health Organization standards for a diagnostic.
Dogs searching for COVID-19 would be trained in the same way as those dogs already trained to detect diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s and bacterial infections – by sniffing samples in the training room and indicating which contains the disease or infection.
They are also able to detect subtle changes in temperature of the skin, so could potentially tell if someone has a fever.
Once trained, dogs could also be used at ports of entry to identify travelers entering the country infected with the virus or be deployed in other public spaces.
Dr. Claire Guest, CEO and Co-Founder of Medical Detection Dogs, says: “In principle, we’re sure that dogs could detect COVID-19. We are now looking into how we can safely catch the odour of the virus from patients and present it to the dogs.
“The aim is that dogs will be able to screen anyone, including those who are asymptomatic and tell us whether they need to be tested. This would be fast, effective and non-invasive and make sure the limited NHS testing resources are only used where they are really needed.”
Professor Steve Lindsay at Durham University says: “If the research is successful, we could use COVID-19 detection dogs at airports at the end of the epidemic to rapidly identify people carrying the virus. This would help prevent the re-emergence of the disease after we have brought the present epidemic under control.”
Professor Logan also told the British tabloid The Daily Mirror: “It’s exciting because the project could move at speed as there are six dogs ready to be trained.”
“When resources and testing kits are low, hundreds of people can’t be tested in one go. But the dogs can screen up to 750 people really quickly. By identifying those who need to be tested and self-isolate, they can stop the spread.
“They offer a fast, effective and non-invasive way to ensure limited NHS testing resources are used only where they are really needed. The dogs can help make a profound impact on the spread of this deadly disease. Their ability is incredible.”
Professor Logan said: “The first thing we need to do is establish whether there is a distinct odour from Covid-19 and if dogs can detect it. We need samples to do that.
“The two main samples we need are face masks and nylons, as nylon is a very good matrix for collecting odour.
“We have to follow protocols with the samples, as they are highly infectious and we need to ensure they’re safe.
“We know that other respiratory diseases change our body odor, and if there is a distinct odor, we are confident the dogs will detect it.
“We’ve done a lot of work with the dogs detecting malaria and found a high level of accuracy – above the World Health Organization standards for a diagnostic.”
COVID-19 is caused by a new coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and now with this new virus, named SARS-CoV-2.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a betacoronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. All three of these viruses have their origins in bats. The sequences from U.S. patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, suggesting a likely single, recent emergence of this virus from an animal reservoir.
Early on, many of the patients at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread. Person-to-person spread was subsequently reported outside Hubei and in countries outside China, including in the United States. Most international destinations now have ongoing community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19, as does the United States. Community spread means some people have been infected and it is not known how or where they became exposed. Learn more about the spread of this coronavirus that is causing COVID-19.
For the latest and most accurate information pertaining to COVID-19, visit cdc.gov and follow guidance issued by local, state and federal authorities.
About COVID-19 via Center for Disease Control and Prevention
The COVID-19 pandemic is a serious global health threat and CDC is committed to stopping the global spread. CDC has a long history of improving public health capacity throughout the world to contain outbreaks at their source and minimize their impact.
CDC’s technical support to ministries of health and other local and international partners is delivered in coordination with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, other U.S. government agencies, and other stakeholders including multilateral organizations.
CDC works globally to limit human-to-human transmission of COVID-19, minimize the impact of COVID-19 in vulnerable countries with limited preparedness capacity, and reduce threats that pose current and future risk to the United States. Globally, CDC works to:
- Strengthen capacity to prevent, detect, investigate and respond to local COVID-19
- Mitigate COVID-19 transmission in the community, across borders, and in healthcare facilities
- Support governments, nongovernmental organizations, and healthcare facilities to rapidly identify, triage, and diagnose potential cases to improve patient care and minimize disruptions to essential health services
- Address crucial unknowns regarding clinical severity, extent of transmission and infection with support for special investigations and other forms of cooperation between CDC and country partners
- Ensure readiness to implement vaccines and therapeutics when available
Since 2015, CDC has been a key implementing partner of the USG Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). GHSA investments have helped countries build national capacities to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats. These investments and partnerships have laid foundations to rapidly and effectively prepare for emerging threats, including the current COVID-19 pandemic. Lessons learned from addressing HIV, influenza, Ebola, dengue, Zika, and many other viruses are being applied to the COVID-19 response.
Outbreaks can be stressful
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health conditions
- alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations
How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.
People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include
- Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19
- Children and teens
- People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors, other health care providers, and first responders
- People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use
Take care of yourself and your community
Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.
Ways to cope with stress
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Take care of your body.
- Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
- Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Know the facts to help reduce stress
Sharing the facts about COVID-19. Understanding the risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful.
When you share accurate information about COVID-19, you can help make people feel less stressed and make a connection with them.
Take care of your mental health
Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Additional information can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Preparednessexternal icon page.
Stay with Your Content for the latest updates. Have a story or news tip? Contact our 24/7 newsroom at 833.336.8013.