Training Dogs to Detect Health Problems
A medical charity located in England was able to successfully train dogs to detect malaria, and they are now the ones working on training them to identify specific virus strains. The charity is called Medical Detection Dogs, and they have partnered with the Tropical Medicine and Hygiene School in London as well as Durham University. They’re beginning dog training for the job.
Dr. Claire Guest is a behavioral psychologist, as well as a principal member of the medical charity. She believes that this is a rigorously scientific approach and that there is no reason why dogs can’t detect viruses.
Previous Success Due to the Research
The charity itself has produced many peer-reviewed papers based on their work with training dogs to detect Parkinson’s disease, cancer, as well as malaria — all by using their sense of smell. The goal of this training is for dogs to have the ability to screen anyone — from those that are asymptomatic to those that are showing symptoms. This can help determine whether or not the human needs to be tested, which can save on resources as they are often limited.
Most respiratory diseases can change our body odor, which means that there is a high chance dogs can smell and detect it. This can be a tool that could revolutionize response efforts for many viruses.
A Golden Retriever named Kiwi had an 80% success rate at detecting prostate cancer in humans just by sniffing them.