Why wait for test? Indian Army now trains dogs to sniff out COVID-19
The canines are being trained to sniff out COVID-19 infection by identifying unique metabolic biomarkers in sweat and urine samples of the patients
The Indian army is training dogs to find COVID-19 virus for a quick and a real time situation for easier movements of troops. Chippiparai and Cocker Spaniel have been deployed at transit camps of the force in Delhi and Chandigarh.
The Cocker Spaniel is two-years-old and is named Casper, and Chippiparai is one-year-old and is named Jaya. Till date, 22 samples have been found positive by the Covid-19 detection dogs after screening around 3,806 troops at both the places.
HOW ALL IT STARTED
"Based on the data from the samples which we have tested till now, we can infer the ability to detect the disease is more than 95 per cent among sniffer dogs," Colonel Saini told news agency ANI.
There after a concerted effort was made to train an indigenous breed of dog 'Chippiparai' and a 'Cocker Spaniel' to detect the volatilome of Covid-19 disease from urine and sweat samples of positive cases by comparative method.
"Positive and suspected samples were obtained from the Military Hospital, Meerut Cantt and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Subharti Medical College, Meerut for the purpose of training," Lieutenant Colonel Surinder Saini said.
These two dogs were successfully trained on specific biomarkers emanating from urine and sweat samples of positive patients. Scientifically, it is evident that affected body tissues release unique volatile metabolic biomarkers which are used as disease signatures for detection of disease by the medical detection dogs.
The sensitivity and specificity of both the dogs obtained from screening of 279 urine and 267 sweat samples during the initial trial procedure was found to be very high. After the training, the dogs were first deployed at a Transit Camp in Delhi for screening of transients and a total of 806 were screened during their deployment here.
Keeping in mind the success of trial, around eight more dogs have been incorporated in training for Covid-19 virus detection. In India, it is the first time the olfactory capability of canines has been exploited to detect tissues infected with pathogens releasing volatile metabolic biomarkers.
Several European countries have already begun training dogs for COVID-19 detection by screening passengers at railway stations and airports.
(With inputs from IANS)