Detection Dogs as a Help in the COVID-19 Detection

What would happen if dogs could detect people who are positive for COVID-19? This is the question that Professor Dominique Grandjean, professor and researcher at EnvA at the initiative of the Nosaïs-Covid19 project, tries to answer in this study

Detection of COVID-19 by dogs: very promising results

Some results:

Table 1. Results obtained in the dogs in Paris according to the first, second and third presentation of COVID-19 positive samples

Description of the Study:

  • Title: Detection dogs as a help in the detection of COVID-19. Can the dog alert on COVID-19 positive persons by sniffing axillary sweat samples? Proof-of-concept study.
  • Principal Investigators: Dominique Grandjean, Riad Sarkis, Jean-Pierre Tourtier, Clothilde Julien-Lecocq, Aymeric Benard, Vinciane Roger, Eric Levesque, Eric Bernes-Luciani, Bruno Maestracci, Pascal Morvan, Eric Gully, David Berceau-Falancourt, Jean-Luc Pesce, Bernard Lecomte, Pierre Haufstater, Gregory Herin, Joaquin Cabrera, Quentin Muzzin, Capucine Gallet, Hélène Bacqué, Jean-Marie Broc,
  • Centres of Implementation: Alfort School of Veterinary Medicine, Paris (France), South Corsica Fire and Emergency Dept, Ajaccio (France) and French-Lebanese University Saint Joseph, Beirout (Lebanon).
  • Study Population: 335 participants with a mean age of 35 (6 to 76), 295 (88%) were over 18 years old and 170 (51%) were female. On the one hand, positive samples were performed in patients with clinical symptoms of COVID-19, who were RT-PCR or PCR positive for SARS-CoV-2. On the other hand, negative samples were collected from patients who had no clinical symptoms related to COVID-19 and were PCR negative for SARS-CoV-2.
  • Study Type: Multicentre study.
  • Design: For the canine sniff test, axillary sweat samples were collected by means of compresses placed for two minutes under the armpits of study participants. They were then enclosed in jars and sniffed by at least two different dogs. The latter have not been in contact with the volunteers. Nine trained dogs, firefighters from Yvelines and Oise, EnvA or the United Arab Emirates, participated in the study.
  • Methods: Two types of sampling media were used:
    – Sterile gauze used by hospitals or sterile gauze filters used for explosive detection (provided by DiagNose comp.).
    – Inert polymer tubes used for explosives, drug or criminology detection (provided by Gextent comp.)

Objectives of the Study:

Principal Objective: To assess whether sweat produced by people with COVID-19 (PCR-positive SARS-CoV-2) has a different odour to trained detection dogs than sweat produced by people without COVID-19.

More about this Study:

Scientific Context: Canine olfactive detection has proven its efficacy in numerous situations (explosives, drugs, bank notes…) including for early diagnosis of human diseases: various cancers, alert of diabetic or epileptic people in immediate alarm of crisis (1) The Nosaïs project, conducted by the UMES (Unité de Médecine de l’Elevage et du Sport) at Alfort school of veterinary medicine (France), has been set up in order to develop the scientific approach of medical detection dogs. The occurence of the COVID-19 pandemia led the Nosaïs team to start a multicentric study on the olfactive detection of SARS-CoV-2 positive people.

Added Value: This study is the first of its kind to be carried out internationally and should pave the way for a wider use of the sniffer dog in the fight against COVID-19.


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