Switzerland trains sniffer dogs for detecting people with COVID-19

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Researchers in Switzerland have launched a training trial to see if sniffer dogs can find out people infected with Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Three dogs are being trained by researchers from Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) for four weeks by exposing them to samples of sick and healthy people, after which the dogs will go through a sweat-sniffing test to see if they can identify infected individuals, said the hospitals in an online statement.

If successful, “the use of dogs for screening for COVID-19 could be considered in Switzerland,” said the statement.

The study, as a collaboration among HUG, the largest university hospital in Switzerland, and the Swiss Army and United Nations Department of Safety and Security, is expected to have a final result by March.

Initial results from France, Germany, and several other countries have shown that trained sniffer dogs are able to recognise people with COVID-19 infections.

Sniffer dogs could be an inexpensive, relatively simple, and friendly alternative to screening methods currently used for slowing down transmission, said Dr Manuel Schibler, physician of the Infectious Diseases Department at HUG.

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