The Indian Army is training dogs, including native breeds, to detect coronavirus. At the 48 Military Veterinary Hospital, in Delhi Cantonment, on Monday, the army showed off its canine COVID detectives: Jaya, Mani and Casper. While Jaya and Mani belong to the indigenous chippiparai breed, Casper is a cocker spaniel.
Officials said they are in the process of training seven more dogs. On completion of training, the canines will be deployed at transient camps to screen troops moving towards forward areas. Jaya and Casper have already started working at a transit camp in Delhi, where they screened 806 samples, of which 18 were positive.
The dogs are trained on specific biomarkers emanating from urine and sweat samples of COVID-19 patients.
“It has been inferred that COVID-19 volatile metabolic biomarkers are within the threshold limit of olfactory detection capability of trained dog and can help in quick and real time detection of disease,” an army statement said.
The statement also said that the army undertook the trials for COVID-19 detection by dogs in controlled conditions. It collected positive and suspected samples from the Military Hospital in Meerut Cantonment and the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Subharti Medical College, Meerut.
Countries around the world use dogs for the detection of diseases such as cancer, malaria, diabetes. Countries including France, Germany, the UK and Australia have also started training dogs for COVID-19 detection, especially to screen passengers at airports and railway stations.
The Dubai airport was the first to deploy a dog quad to detect COVID cases. Samples from passengers are taken to another room where they are sniffed by dogs, with results delivered in less than one minute, according to the Dubai Police.