Research conducted by the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover (TiHo), in cooperation with the Faculty of Medicine Hannover (MHH), Robert Koch Institute, Hannover Concerts, ProEvent Hannover and AWiAS Aviation Services GmbH, examined whether trained corona detection dogs can be used in everyday life.
For the first study of its kind, the project team held four concerts in late 2021, during which medical detection dogs sniffed sweat samples from all visitors at the entrance to detect SARS-CoV infections. -2. The research team published their findings today in the BMJ Global Health.
The Lower Saxony Ministry of Science and Culture supported the study. “I am delighted with the success of the ‘Return to Culture’ feasibility study,” said Lower Saxony’s Minister of Science and Culture, Falko Mohrs. “This shows that the use of dogs can be an option for infection control. This study is further proof of Lower Saxony’s creativity and innovative strength.”
The overall concordance rate was close to 100%. Eight dogs had been trained in advance to recognize SARS-CoV-2 positive samples by smell. To assess how well the performance of corona detection dogs in detecting SARS-CoV-2 works in an everyday situation, the project team organized four concerts with Fury in the Slaughterhouse, Bosse, Alle Farben and Sido.
A total of 2,802 participants came to the four events. They all provided sweat samples, which were presented to the dogs in an alignment scenario where visitors had no direct contact with the dogs. Additionally, all attendees had been tested with a SARS-CoV-2-specific rapid antigen test and RT-qPCR prior to the respective concert. They also provided information on age, sex, vaccination status and their medical history.
SARS-CoV-2 detection dogs achieved a diagnostic specificity of 99.93% (detection of negative samples) and a sensitivity of 81.58% (detection of positive samples). The overall agreement rate was 99.68%. The majority of attendees had been vaccinated with different vaccines and vaccination schedules, several visitors suffered from chronic illnesses and were being treated with chronic medications. This did not affect the dogs’ working decisions and behavior.
Professor Holger Volk, Head of the Small Animal Clinic at TiHo, said: “Our results show that SARS-CoV-2 detection dogs can achieve high diagnostic accuracy in a real-world scenario. Vaccination status, previous infection with chronic SARS-CoV-2 disease and participants’ medications had no impact on dogs’ ability to detect acute infection Study also demonstrates how corona detection dogs can be used in life daily.
The “Return to Culture” project
As early as July 2020, a research team from the Small Animal Clinic had shown in a pilot study that dogs, with their exceptional sense of smell, are able to distinguish between samples from people infected with SARS-CoV-2 and healthy people in laboratory. conditions with approximately 94% certainty. A follow-up study has shown that sweat and urine are also suitable sample materials.
The aim of the joint project “Return to Culture” was to examine how and whether major events can be made safer by using corona detection dogs. The study results also indicate whether corona detection dogs could also be used in other everyday situations.
Nele Alexandra ten Hagen et al, Canine real-time detection of SARS-CoV-2 infections in the context of a mass screening event, BMJ Global Health (2022). DOI: 10.1136/bmjgh-2022-010276
Paula Jendrny et al, Canine olfactory detection and its relevance for medical detection, BMC Infectious Diseases (2021). DOI: 10.1186/s12879-021-06523-8
Provided by the Veterinary University of Hannover Foundation
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