Offbeat Italy: Dogs train to detect COVID in humans
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This is the first day of Harlock at the school of detection of COVID-19 in the vicinity of Rome and is already very promising.
The first task of this German Shepherd this morning is simply to put its humid truffle on a black pipe.
"Renifting", encourages his master, Massimiliano Macera, who rewards his pupil with treats each time his truffle touches the pipe.
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"She has already understood everything!" Massimiliano is extinguished about Harlock, which is part of a group of dogs training to spot by the Flair the virus responsible for the global pandemic.
This project launched there are a dozen days at Campus Bio-Medico, a university hospital in the suburbs of Rome, aims to teach dogs to detect the presence of coronavirus in human sweat.
If it is reliable, this method could become a faster and economical way to detect the virus during gatherings as a football game or a concert.
"If we have to test a thousand people with a traditional test, it takes about twenty minutes per person," says AFP Massimo Ciccozzo, an epidemiology teacher. "A dog using his smell would need up to 30 seconds".
pandemic Dogs, with their hypersensitive truffle with olfactory receptors, are also in more used to detect human diseases such as cancer or diabetes.
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with the pandemic, researchers have launched several tests with dogs around the world, especially in Finland, Germany, France and the United Arab Emirates.
But some scientists believe that such tests have not yet been adopted on a large scale because of the lack of scientific studies on the subject.
- "A game" -
six dogs belonging to Mr. Macera, SecurityDogs, participate in the program, including Rome, a 4-year dutch shepherd coated with a black and turquoise harness with "COV19dog" inscription.
"The first part of dog training is to have them recognized volatile organic compounds characterizing COVID," observes Silvia Angeletti, laboratory director at the hospital.
, this study is The first based on both laboratory research and field experimentation.
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During the workout phase, biological samples were taken from patients with neat coronaviruses in the hospital.
When dogs can recognize the virus sufficiently reliably, their truffle will be solicited to detect positive cases in the Drive-in Test Center near the hospital.
Volunteers to participate in this experience will have to give a piece of gauze with their sweat, which will be placed in a test room where it can be sniffed by the dogs.
The results of these tests will then be compared to those of the traditional tests made on each patient.
For the moment, Harlock just has fun in the training room without being aware of the potential importance of his work and that of his congeners.
"In the morning they can not wait to start," Rejoiced Mr. Macera. "For them, this work is a game. These are already experts, they do it with a certain natural".
AMS / GLR / LJM / IAL /
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