The Chilean Police is carrying out an unusual experiments with dogs – they are training dogs to detect people that may be infected with Coronavirus by sniffing their sweat.
Three golden retrievers and a Labrador who are between the ages of four and five, are part of the program said to be a joint effort of the Chile’s national police, the Carabineros and specialists at the Universidad Catolica de Chile.
Before now, the dogs have been used to sniff out illicit drugs, explosives and lost people.
Julio Santelices, head of the police school of specialties said the program follows in the footsteps of similar efforts taking place in France.
“The importance of this scientific study is that it will allow dogs to become biodetectors, and detect this type of illness at an early stage.”
Fernando Mardones, a Universidad Catolica professor of veterinary epidemiology said;
“The virus has no smell, but rather the infection generates metabolic changes which in turn leads to the release of a particular type of sweat which is what the dog would detect.”
Mardones added that there is already evidence that dogs can detect diseases such as tuberculosis, parasite infections and even early stages of cancer.
The canine trainees began their education one month ago, and will use sweat samples taken from COVID-19 patients being treated at the Universidad Catolica’s clinic. The experts hope to have the dogs trained and working in the field by August.
Dogs have 330 million olfactory receptors, and an ability to detect smells 50 times better than humans. They can also smell 250 people per hour.