Four-legged friends of the armed force have been an integral part of challenging tasks such as explosive and narcotics detection, search and rescue operations. Now, they have a new job.
Dogs of the Indian breed Chippiparai and cocker spaniels are being trained to sniff out coronavirus by identifying metabolic biomarkers in personnel's sweat and urine samples, within seconds.
The dog brother and sister-duo of Mani and Jaya along with Casper, are among India’s first seven military canines to be trained in Covid-19 detection. They have been preparing for the task since September last year.
Mani, Jaya and Casper. (Image: News18)
Casper is a cocker spaniel, while Jaya and Mani are indigenous Chippiparai hounds from Tamil Nadu.
“Many countries use dogs for the detection of diseases such as cancer, Parkinson's, and diabetes. In India, this is the first time we have used dogs to detect a disease. We really see hope in this. We have found great results. We started training these dogs in September, and now they have become experts. Within seconds, they can detect the virus. These dogs have been trained to sit next to a positive sample kept in a container, while they move forward if it's negative,” Lt Colonel Surinder Saini, an instructor at the RVC Center in Meerut told News18.
"The use of dogs in the detection of coronavirus can assist in the real-time detection of the disease, and also help in reducing the scale of RT-PCR and rapid antigen tests. These canines can be used at live events to screen people," he added.
Jaya and Casper have sniffed out 22 positive cases of COVID-19 from 806 samples at the Delhi transit camp and around 3,000 samples at the Chandigarh transit camp.
This is the first time in India that the olfactory capability of canines is being used to detect tissues infected with pathogens releasing volatile metabolic biomarkers.
Several nations such as the UK, Finland, Russia, France, UAE, Germany, Lebanon have already started training dogs for coronavirus detection by screening passengers at airports and railway stations.