coronavirus dogs effective spotting covid 19 as pcr tests
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Step through major sport events or international airports and one may spot special dogs on leashes. These dogs are trained to sniff for drugs and other nefarious items, helping to protect the population from illicitly smuggled items. Now these dogs are being trained to sniff out not just hardware, but COVID-19. The results of a new trial published in Finland show dogs are as good at detecting COVID-19 as PCR tests.

Published in the journal BMJ Global Health, the new data shows sniffer dogs could “provide a valuable way to contain the pandemic,” say researchers.

The experiment was carried out in Finland; a team of trained sniffer dogs were found to have a 98 percent success rate at detecting the virus.

While PCR testing remains capable, researchers said: “It’s practicality is hampered by inadequate availability, restricted testing capacity, high costs, long turnaround time and prolonged positivity after infection.”

The cost of PCR tests has come to fore after several countries, including the UK, made the decision to end free testing.

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By using dogs researchers added they are taking “an approach not confined to laboratories, enabling large sample numbers with results in real time”.

Such has been the effectiveness of dogs in early-stage trials there are some who say they could be deployed at major events as a way to conduct at the gate testing.

However, their first point of use would be international airports as a way to test international travellers.

Professor Anu Kantele of Helsinki University Hospital said: “The basic idea at airports would be that the dogs do the first-stage screening and those marked as positive could then be tested, for example with PCR.”

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Meanwhile, while work goes on into new methods of detecting COVID-19, the virus is being linked to the spread of another disease slowly going viral.

Since the early part of this year scientists have been baffled by the spread of a form of acute hepatitis among children.

So far the outbreak, originating in Scotland, has spread to more than 12 countries and resulted in the deaths of a small number of children.

Several theories have been put forward as to the cause of the outbreak; COVID-19 has now joined the list.

Researchers reporting in The Lancet say it is possible the hepatitis may have developed as a result of an undiagnosed Covid infection in unvaccinated children.

If this theory proves to be true, they say some particles of the virus may have lingered in the gastrointestinal tract, triggering the hepatitis infection.

Researchers said: “We suggest that children with acute hepatitis be investigated for [COVID-19] persistence in the stool.”

They add the COVID-19’s ability to trigger the virus is down to the spike protein acting as a “superantigen”.



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