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how dogs are trained to sniff the smell of coronavirus – Insurance for dogs


Gun, a Belgian Malinois shepherd, has the choice between several aligned funnels. In each funnel, a jar containing cotton with different smells. One of these cottons is impregnated with sweat collected in a hospital from a person affected by Covid-19. This training takes place in the national veterinary school of Alfort (Val-de-Marne) and it was initiated a few days earlier by the head of the veterinary service of the Paris fire brigade. LThe Seine et Marne SDIS is also a partner in this study.

A member of the canine unit of the Seine-Marne departmental fire and rescue service. (BENJAMIN ILLY / RADIOFRANCE)

« The dog puts his nose on the support where there is cotton, he is never in contact with the material « , said Chief Warrant Officer Eric Gully, canine technical advisor and member of the Seine-et-Marne SDIS. « There is no risk for the animal. We are working on sweat which has no viral load. There is therefore no danger, neither for humans nor for animals, in manipulation « , Explain Eric Gully.

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The dog had sniffed the smell before the experiment and he got it right this time. Despite this, the chief warrant officer call for caution.

We start from scratch. To train a dog in a discipline, it takes months or even years. We are ten days away from work.

The possible missions of these future trained dogs have not yet been defined, but the trainers imagine possibilities. « All of that is still with maybe and ifs. But why not dogs that could detect in airports, stations, amusement parks? », conceived Chief Warrant Officer Eric Gully.

At the origin of this project, Dominique Grandjean, professor at the veterinary school of Alfort and veterinary colonel at the fire brigade of Paris, was inspired by a previous experience of the University of Alabama ( United States). « Experience has shown, three years ago, that dogs are able to diagnose and detect mucosal disease in cattle. So dogs are capable, by smell, of detecting cows that are positive », Explain Dominique Grandjean.

Dominique Grandjean, head of the veterinary service of the Paris fire brigade. (BENJAMIN ILLY / RADIOFRANCE)

The head of the veterinary service of the Paris fire brigade ensures that this is not « replace tests » Covid-19 test but to be « a complementary tool. Maybe a pre-test ». « Everything will depend on the results in terms of sensitivity and specificity. If we demonstrate that we are above 90%, we may wonder. We believe it « , ensures Dominique Grandjean.

Similar studies are also being carried out by the SDIS of Corse-du-Sud and the Franco-Lebanese University of Beirut.