- Police dogs across the world are being trained to detect the novel coronavirus by smelling people.
- Sniffer dogs could be used to minimise the spread of the coronavirus in public spaces.
- Sniffer dogs have been able to successfully detect other diseases like cancer and tuberculosis.
- Visit Business Insider SA's homepage for more stories.
"It seems that the same sort of process that occurs in cancer detection dogs, or bomb detection dogs, or any other type of detecting dog may apply here too," Dr. Brian Hare, author of "Survival of the Friendliest" and professor of Evolutionary Anthropology, and Psychology, and Neuroscience at Duke University, told Insider.
Here's the science behind how bio-detector dogs sniff out diseases and get trained to keep us safe.
While there is no evidence that conclusively proves sniffer dogs can detect the coronavirus, dogs have long been used to sniff out bombs, cancer, and even malaria.
"There are lots of species that actually have better noses in dogs, but what dogs have is this pairing of a great nose and communicative ability," Hare told Insider.
Dogs have an olfactory epithelium, responsible for detecting smells, that is 30% larger than that of a human — making their noses especially powerful.
Source: The Guardian
"The way that dogs are able to detect the virus or cancer, or even a bomb, is that there's something associated with a stain they're searching for that they can smell," Hare told Insider.
Sniffer dogs are trained by detecting something associated with illnesses or drugs such as sweat or chemicals and alerting their trainer by sitting or barking.
The coronavirus has at least seven different strains, making it especially hard to detect, according to Hare.
Sources: Business Insider
In France, samples of the coronavirus are kept on hand to test the dogs.
Source: The Connexion
Officers rub pieces of fabric with the coronavirus and place them in cones to test the dogs during training sessions.
The dogs then sniff each cone and alert their trainer when they've found the infected pieces of fabric.
In Santiago, Chile, the National Police and the Catholic University of Chile are working together to train four dogs to detect the coronavirus in public spaces by September.
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