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Dogs able to sniff out COVID-19 with high accuracy in preliminary study

Researchers say trained dogs were mostly able to tell if human saliva was infected with COVID-19, but a lot more research must be done.

Researchers in Germany say they have found dogs were able to smell the saliva of COVID-19 patients but they say more research needs to be done.

The study, led by the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, found that detection dogs who are properly trained can tell the difference between COVID-19-infected saliva and non-infected samples. They were accurate 94% of the time, according to the study. 

The study was done in a controlled laboratory setting. The samples were randomized.

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Researchers say although the results are promising, they should be seen as preliminary and further research should be conducted.

The researchers say the next step is to train the dogs to tell the difference between COVID-19 and other respiratory virus infections such as influenza, other coronaviruses and rhinovirus. The negative samples used in the study were from healthy individuals with no clinical signs of other respiratory diseases.

Future research would also need to determine the efficacy of whether dogs can detect COVID-19 accurately in a non-controlled setting.

A dog's sense of smell is at least 10,000 times as powerful as that of a human, James Walker, former director of the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University, told PBS's "Nova" in 2012.

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