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Sniffer dogs may be secret to kickstarting travel industry

They’re called ‘The Super Six’ and they could be our industry’s saviours. 


The six labradors and cocker spaniels are being trained to see if they can sniff out COVID-19 in travellers, CNN reported.


According to researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in collaboration with Medical Detection Dogs and the UK's Durham University, respiratory diseases change a person’s body odour, and trained dogs will be able to sniff that out.


"[The trial] builds up on years of research that we've already done as a team to demonstrate that people who have a malaria infection have a distinctive body odour and we've shown that dogs can be trained to detect that with very high accuracy," London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine head of department of disease control Professor James Logan said.


The dogs are given face masks and nylon socks from subjects who have tested positive for COVID-19 and those who haven’t to help them distinguish between the scents.


Should the trial be successful, researchers believe using the dogs could help kickstart the travel industry, doing away with the need for enforced quarantines for air travellers. 


Each dog could screen up to 250 people an hour, with the first group of dogs ready to be deployed at airports within the next six months. 


"Hopefully this will prevent a second peak and enable precious NHS resources to be used where most needed," Medical Detection Dogs chief executive Dr Claire Guest said. 


"We are incredibly proud that a dog's nose could once again save many lives."


The UK government has given the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine almost AU$935,000 to put towards the research.


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Written by: Gaya Avery
Published: 20 May 2020

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