Dogs in Austria began to learn how to search for COVID-19 patients by smell

Austrian armed forces began to train service dogs in a test mode to determine by the smell of people infected with coronavirus. The method should make it possible to detect the virus in humans even with asymptomatic course of the disease, reported on Sunday, July 19, on the website of the defense ministry of this country.

A Belgian shepherd dog is being trained in the new program at the Cynological Military Centre. It is supposed to ascribe a tube with molecules of coronavirus smell, which was extracted from the infected medical mask. When they find the tube, they give the dog a treat. In the coming days, the cynologists will start the test phase of virus detection using an infected mask. The tests will continue until the end of July.

For the safety of the working dog and the cynologist, the tubes and masks are treated with ultraviolet radiation. In this way, the virus loses its activity and should not become infected.

At the end of the test period, the military will analyze the results of the work done.

“The fact that our service dogs can detect different substances is not news. We have dogs to detect by the smell of drugs or explosives,” said Defence Secretary Claudia Tanner in a statement.

The test phase should determine if this special training will become an integral part of the military dog training center, the minister said.

A total of 166 dogs serve in the Austrian Armed Forces – Rottweiler, sheepdogs, labradors and hunting breeds. They are used in operations at home and abroad.

In early May, it became known that cynologists and veterinarians on the French island of Corsica are studying whether dogs of service breeds can detect people infected with coronavirus by smell.

It was noted that the experiment involved eight dogs, six of which – crimson – Belgian sheepdogs.

The researchers want to determine whether the infected people emit some special smell. If there is one, they can teach dogs to identify those who are sick.