The best bio-sensor we have…
Medical Detection Dogs is a charity based in the United Kingdom. They train dogs to detect the odour of human disease. It is known world wide that dogs are capable of detecting life-threatening and non life-threatening conditions such as epilepsy, cancer, malaria, Parkinson’s and diabetes. Medical Detection Dogs have worked with with dogs detecting a range of different types of cancers for some years now. Professor Logan is head of disease control at LSHTM (London School of Hygiene and Topical Medicine) and he reports that dogs can detect malaria at a level higher than the World Health Organisation’s standard for a diagnosis.
Alongside Durham University and the LSHTM, urgent work to detect Coronavirus has begun. Training a dog to detect Covid 19 will take approximately 6 weeks but for now they are devising a way to safety ‘catch’ the odour of the virus.
A dog trained in detecting cancer doesn’t smell a patient directly, but instead smells and detects an odour signature in samples of breath or urine. Once this mode is applied with recognising Covid 19 it would be a minimally invasive method of testing. They could also be used as second line type of testing. Each disease has a unique smell. However, dogs are also great at detecting differences in human skin temperature and may even be able to identify someone with a fever which could be useful at airports.
Accuracy in knowing the size of an outbreak, is of high importance for policy makers. If the dogs prove to be an extra help it would be of vital importance.
It is not just the dogs and their talents that are valuable. In the future it is possible that the design of screening machinery could actually mimic the dog’s nose, a bit like an electronic nose system. A nano sensor would be a cheap and reliable way to make early detections for a number of human conditions, potentially saving thousands of lives. There have already been 3 electronic nose systems designed since 2004 based on the principles of canine ‘sniffability’.
Medical Detection Dogs have a ‘no-kennel’ policy. The dogs come to work Monday to Friday and have their weekends off.
You can read more about them here…
Leah & Angela OMeara
Hound Dog Day Care (Specialists in Dog Minding & Dog Boarding, Pet Sitting Brisbane & Doggy Day Care Brisbane)