The Indian Army on Tuesday demonstrated the capability of dogs to detect the COVID-19 virus from urine and sweat samples of individuals.
The Indian Army used three dogs, namely Jaya and Mani of indigenous Chippaparai breed, and a Cocker Spaniel called Casper, for the demonstration. Speaking to ANI, the trainer of the canines, Colonel (Col) Surender Saini said that the army dogs are being used for detection of COVID-19 infection.
“Army dogs are recently being used for the detection of COVID-19 infection, we are using indigenous breed. Chippiparai (breed) and labrador (breed) has been trained on urine samples, cocker spaniels (breed) on sweat samples,” he said.
“We have conducted trials and we have officially deployed these dogs based on the data from the sample, we can say the sensitivity, which is the ability to detect the disease, is more than 95 percent,” he added. However, when asked about the possibility of dogs getting the infection while detecting the virus, the trainer said that this would not happen as the samples used are sterile and do not contain the virus. The samples only contain the volatile metabolic biomarker which is the signature of the COVID-19 disease and only has the odor and not the virus.
The sensitivity and specificity of both the dogs obtained from the screening of 279 urine and 267 sweat samples during the initial trial procedure was found to be very high. After the training, dogs were first deployed at a transit camp of the Indian Army in Delhi for the screening of transients. A total of 806 transient were screened during their deployment. Further, they are being used for screening of transients moving to the operational area through the transit camp. Later, they will be deployed to Chandigarh.
More than 3000 samples have been screened so far and 18 samples have been found to be positive for the virus by these dogs.
For the first time in India, the olfactory capability of canines is being explored to detect tissues infected with pathogens releasing volatile metabolic biomarkers, the official said. Various countries like Britain, Finland, Russia, France, United Arab Emirates, Germany, and Lebanon have started training dogs for COVID-19 detection by screening passengers at airports and railway stations.
Taking a leaf out of the global trends of using medical detection dogs for various diseases like cancer, malaria, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease, the Indian Army has undertaken trials for the detection of COVID-19 using army dogs in controlled conditions. Positive and suspected samples were obtained from Military Hospital, Meerut Cantt, and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Subharti Medical College, Meerut for the purpose of training.