Detection dogs sniff the long COVID, raising hopes for better therapy

COVID-19 detection dogs can also detect COVID-19 in humans for a long time, according to new research from veterinarians in Germany.

Scientists from the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover found that the canines have specialized in sniff out the SARS-CoV-2 virus were also able to determine patient samples suffering from long COVID effects.

These symptoms can include headaches, shortness of breath, and a variety of cognitive dysfunctions.

Experts said they were optimistic their study result could help improve post-COVID therapies.

A recent study by a research team from the Hannover University of Veterinary Medicine in Germany shows that dogs previously trained with samples from people infected with COVID-19 can recognize samples from post-COVID-19 patients.
Sebastien Meller/Zenger

An earlier scientific review found that specialized dogs could identify samples from people with acute COVID-19. Their capabilities regarding long COVID had not been determined prior to the Hanover vets’ pilot study.

The dogs do not detect the virus itself but volatile organic compounds that are created in metabolic procedures during an infection, the researchers say.

The scientists said their result supports the hypothesis that these volatile organic compounds are present long-term in COVID patients long after the initial infection.

Experts performed two different long COVID detection scenarios with dogs.

Specialized canines showed an exceptionally high success rate of 85% or more in both procedures.

“We believe that further, longer COVID research involving medical detection dogs should be conducted based on our findings,” said Professor Holger Volk, director of the university’s small animal clinic.

“Certain organic compounds are created during respiratory illnesses. Our investigation proves that specialized detection dogs can recognize these substances not only during acute COVID infections, but also in post-COVID patients.”

Friederike Twele is a veterinarian and neurologist at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover. She pointed to the “great potential of medical detection dogs when it comes to the long COVID”.

Sniffer dogs detect COVID-19 in passengers
People hold up their face masks for One Betta, a Dutch Shepherd, to smell COVID-19 at Miami International Airport on Sept. 8, 2021, in Miami. Scientists from the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover recently found that dogs that specialize in detecting the SARS-CoV-2 virus were also able to determine samples from patients with long effects of COVID.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Trained detection dogs are increasingly deployed in medical research. They are able to detect various infectious as well as non-infectious diseases, according to experts from the Veterinary University of Hannover.

Veterinarian and virologist Claudia Schulz added: “The diagnostic capabilities of detection dogs are truly impressive.

“They are able to detect not only acute COVID-19 infections, but also post-COVID illnesses long after common methods such as PCR and antibody testing can provide meaningful insights.

“This study result could lead to optimized therapies. It could also lead to a better understanding of complex infectious diseases.”

The veterinarians cooperated with scientists from the city’s medical university and the German Bundeswehr’s assistance dog department in the study of COVID detection dogs.

According to the World Health Organization, between 10 and 20 percent of people infected with COVID-19 experience a variety of medium- and long-term effects after recovering from the initial illness.WHO).

These symptoms are commonly referred to as long or post-COVID COVIDs. They include fatigue, headaches and shortness of breath, but also cognitive dysfunctions such as a lack of mental focus.

The National Health Service (NHS) points out on its website: “The time it takes to recover from COVID-19 is different for everyone.

“Many people feel better within a few days or weeks, and most recover fully within 12 weeks. But for some people, symptoms may last longer.”

He points out that “people who had mild symptoms at first may still have long-term problems.”

The study was published on June 16 in Frontiers in Medicine.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.

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