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World Czech trainers teach dogs to sniff out Covid

09:05  24 january  2021
09:05  24 january  2021 Source:   afp.com

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A team of Czech trainers say their Covid -19 detection dogs have a 95 percent success rate Michal Cizek AFP. "The study is designed to verify dogs ' ability to detect Covid -19 and generate a method enabling the use of trained dogs in combatting the pandemic," project head Gustav Hotovy told AFP.

A local organization is helping in the fight against the coronavirus by training dogs to sniff out COVID -19. Members of the newly formed KOVID-19 Detection

In a dog training centre built inside a shipping container located in a Czech mountain village, Renda, Cap and Laky are being put to the test.

a person standing next to a dog: A team of Czech trainers say their Covid-19 detection dogs have a 95 percent success rate © Michal Cizek A team of Czech trainers say their Covid-19 detection dogs have a 95 percent success rate

They sniff at six vessels, each containing a piece of cloth with scent from patients with Covid-19, negative donors, or fake samples.

"Good boy!" exclaims Lenka Vlachova, a trainer working at Prague's fire brigade, as jagdterrier Renda sits down by one sample, wagging his tail.

The team of dog trainers are working in their own time and report a 95-percent success rate in Covid-19 detection in samples of human scent.

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(CBS) -- After just a few days of training , dogs in Germany proved capable of identifying people infected with COVID -19, according to researchers. The dogs

"The study is designed to verify dogs' ability to detect Covid-19 and generate a method enabling the use of trained dogs in combatting the pandemic," project head Gustav Hotovy told AFP.

a dog sitting on a table: Jagd Terrier Renda is among the dogs being trained to sniff out Covid-19 © Michal Cizek Jagd Terrier Renda is among the dogs being trained to sniff out Covid-19

"The method should also work with other diseases, even more lethal than Covid-19," Hotovy said.

"In the end, we should be able to detect a huge number of people in a very short time with a trained dog," he said, speaking in the snowy village of Kliny near the German border.

Vlachova told AFP the first study confirming dogs are able to detect tissue attacked by a virus was conducted in the United States about a decade ago.

"The virus changes the human tissue, affecting the scent signature of the person," she said.

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After just a few days of training , dogs in Germany proved capable of identifying people infected with COVID -19, according to researchers. The dogs , part of a study by a veterinary university in Germany, were able to sniff out the coronavirus with stunning accuracy.

The dogs ’ overall success rate was near-perfect, correctly guessing an average of 95% of samples. Four dogs successfully identified a positive Many of the countries which have had the greatest success maintaining low numbers of Covid case numbers have done so with widespread use of testing.

Hotovy, a retired cynologist whose team started training the dogs last August, said that the signature changes "so much that it is immediately discernible for the dogs".

a man holding a dog: Project head Gustav Hotovy, with his big Schnauzer dog, says the coronavirus changes human tissue, which affects a person's scent signature © Michal Cizek Project head Gustav Hotovy, with his big Schnauzer dog, says the coronavirus changes human tissue, which affects a person's scent signature

- 100 percent accuracy? -

The samples used are obtained merely by rubbing a piece of cotton against the patient's skin.

The team then has to ensure the sample is virus-free to prevent the dogs from catching the disease.

Using the same sampling method, a Finnish team has been using dogs for testing at Helsinki airport, reporting its dogs can detect the virus with close to 100 percent accuracy.

a man riding a snow board in the air: Lenka Vlachova, a trainer who works at Prague's fire brigade, plays with jagdterrier Laky in front of the training centre for Covid-19 sniffing dogs © Michal Cizek Lenka Vlachova, a trainer who works at Prague's fire brigade, plays with jagdterrier Laky in front of the training centre for Covid-19 sniffing dogs

Vlachova said the Czechs would like to work together with the Finns or with French and German teams working on similar projects.

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Using dogs ’ powerful sense of smell to detect people with Covid -19 could revolutionise how the disease is identified and tracked, according to The study is being carried out by Durham University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, along with the charity Medical Detection

Unlike their western peers, the Czech team works in its free time and relies on scant financial means provided by a local dog food maker.

- 'Looking for Wally' -

Cynologist Katerina Jancarikova said the virus-affected tissue made up "just a tiny fragment in the overall scent, a part of the dogs' puzzle".

"It's like looking for Wally," she said, referring to the popular children's books in which a tiny character in red and white stripes has to be found in pictures of a huge crowd.

Jancarikova said any dog can be trained for detection as long as it is cooperative.

As Vlachova led Renda back to the van, Hotovy walked into the training centre with a sturdy giant schnauzer named Laky who eagerly sniffed at the vessels, placed in a different pattern, before easily identifying the positive one.

"He was once reluctant to cooperate," he chuckled, adding that the dogs showed the same eager response when let loose in a nearby house where a guest who tested positive for Covid-19 had been staying.

"They immediately jumped at his bed with the same happy reaction they show over a positive sample in the centre," he said.

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This is interesting!