As some states move to reopen after weeks of shutdowns, infectious disease experts say the prevention of future coronavirus outbreaks will depend on scaling up testing and identifying asymptomatic carriers.
Now, eight Labrador retrievers – and their powerful noses – have been enlisted to help. The dogs are the first trainees in a University of Pennsylvania research project to determine whether canines can detect an odor associated with the virus that causes covid-19. If so, they might eventually be used in a sort of “canine surveillance” corps, the university said – offering a noninvasive, four-legged method to screen people in airports, businesses or hospitals.
It would not be surprising if the dogs prove adept at detecting SARS-CoV-2. In addition to drugs, explosives and contraband food items, dogs are able to sniff out malaria, cancers and even a bacterium ravaging Florida’s citrus groves.
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