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Dogs in Finland Are Now Being Trained to Detect the Coronavirus

They can detect the virus in as early as five days before symptoms emerge!

Dogs are indeed man’s best friend. They are the best companion, stress-reliever, and source of happiness to many. This is also why most, if not all, dog owners consider their furbabies as part of the family.

On the other hand, many dogs also have their own “jobs” by serving as service dogs for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and individuals with illnesses, or as bomb-sniffing or rescue dogs for the army or police. And while all they get for a job well done is a delicious treat and fun belly rubs, these dogs would never tire of serving their human—even so until the day they retire. (Read: The furry heroes in the post-quake search and rescue operations in Pampanga)

Now, as people from around the world are threatened by the dangers of COVID-19, dogs are once again here to save the day! In Helsinki, Finland, several dogs have been trained to sniff passenger samples to determine which are infected with the deadly coronavirus.

“What we’ve seen in our research is that the dogs will find [the disease] five days before they [patients] get any clinical symptoms,” said Anna Hielm-Bjorkman, an Adjunct Professor specializing in clinical research for companion animals at the University of Helsinki. (Read: Travel Logs: Doc Ferds on His Most Unforgettable Animal Encounters)

While the efficiency of dogs is still yet to be scientifically proven, Hielm-Bjorkman says our furry buddies are “very good at it,” and that they are almost at 100% sensitivity.

Sniffer Dogs

According to Hielm-Bjorkman, passengers only need to wipe their necks with gauze and place it in a container which will be brought to another room where the sniffer dog will do its work. If the dog identifies a sample to possibly have the SARS-COV2 virus, the airport will ask the specific passenger to take a swab test.

15 dogs and 10 instructors were initially chosen for this training which is sponsored by a private veterinary clinic. A rescue dog from Spain named Kossi is part of the program as he was also trained in detecting cancer. (Read: These dogs are also serving as frontliners during the quarantine!)

“In the future, it’s also possible… that these dogs go around passengers in a similar way to customs dogs,” Vantaa deputy mayor Timo Aronkyto, said.

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