Indian Army undertakes trials to detect COVID-19 with the help of dogs

Taking a leaf out of the global trends of using medical detection dogs for various diseases like cancer, malaria, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, etc, the Indian Army has undertaken trials for the detection of COVID-19 using army dogs in controlled conditions. Various countries like Britain, Finland, Russia, France, UAE, Germany, Lebanon have started training dogs for COVID-19 detection by screening passengers at Airports and Railway stations. Positive and suspected samples were obtained from Military Hospital, Meerut Cantt, and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Subharti Medical College, Meerut for the purpose of training.

Army dogs were successfully trained on specific biomarkers emanating from urine and sweat samples of positive patients. Scientifically, it is evident that affected body tissues release unique volatile metabolic biomarkers which are used as disease signatures for detection of disease by the medical detection dogs. A concerted effort has been made to train an Indigenous breed of dog ‘Chippiparai’ under PM’s initiative of “Atmanirbhar Bharat” and also a ‘Cocker Spaniel’ to detect the volatile of COVID-19 disease from urine and sweat samples of positive cases by the comparative method.

First time in India, the olfactory capability of canines has been exploited to detect tissues infected with pathogens releasing volatile metabolic biomarkers. The use of such canines in the detection of COVID-19 can assist in quick and real-time detection of the disease. The effort will turn out to be the part of detectable disease signatures, thereby paving the way forward for real-time detection of various medical diseases by the use of trained medical detection dogs.