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Preliminary Accuracy of COVID-19 odor detection by canines – Presented by Kenneth G. Furton

The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has led to a worldwide pandemic. As with any outbreak, there is a general strategy of detection, containment, treatment and/or cure. This study explored and successfully demonstrated the use of canines to detect COVID-19 disease in exhaled breath from persons infected with SARS-Cov-2.

Volatile organic compound (VOC) markers from exhaled breath of diseased patients have been widely reported as a means by which certain diseased states may be identified. Analytical instruments have been tested and shown promise for their use as effective screening tools. However, for the detection of breath VOCs, sensitivity limitations still exist with these instruments reporting sensitivity levels in the parts per billion (ppb) range. It has been reported that VOCs in human breath are released in concentrations of ppb to parts per trillion (ppt), in comparison to human blood and urine where VOCs are released in the parts per million (ppm) to ppb range. One method to combat this limitation has been the use of trained scent detection canines as research has shown odor detection capabilities in the ppt range.

Using face masks obtained from hospitalized patients who tested positive for the COVID-19 disease, four canines were trained and evaluated for their ability to detect the disease. Masks from patients who tested negative for COVID-19 were also used to train canines to discriminate between breath VOCs from patients that were both positive and negative for COVID-19. All four canines obtained an accuracy above 90% validated with both double-blind trials and canine deployments.

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