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Pioneering Legs: Indian Army Uses Dogs to Detect Covid-19 and Reduce Waiting Time | India News

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NEW DELHI: For the first time in the country, the Indian Army is using its dogs for rapid Covid-19 detection to reduce delays associated with common diagnostic techniques.
Canine members of the military are known for their pronounced olfactory ability and have previously assisted in explosives and narcotics detection, search and rescue operations, and other challenging tasks. Now they have another job.
Two dogs, the two-year-old cocker spaniel Casper and the one-year-old Jaya, a ‘chippiparai’, which is an indigenous breed from Tamil Nadu, have been trained to detect Covid-19 by sniffing out samples of sweat and urine. Army officers said.
A demonstration of his skills using real samples was held on Tuesday at the premises of the 48th Military Veterinary Hospital in the Delhi Cantonment. Their handlers wore complete PPE kits.
Lt. Col. Surinder Saini, an instructor at the Remount Veterinary Corps Center (RVC) Dog Training Center in Meerut, said that these dogs are “pioneer canines” not just from the Army, but from across India.
“Countries such as the UK, Finland, France, Russia, Germany, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, and the US have already trained dogs for Covid-19 detection. Dogs have previously been used abroad to detect malaria, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, but this is the first time canines have been used for medical screening in India, “he told reporters.
To a question about where the dogs are being deployed, Saini said that after their training in September, the dogs were deployed to the Army transit camp in Delhi in November. Since December, they are being deployed to the Chandigarh transit camp, from where troops are moving to large areas, including the Ladakh region, under Northern Command.
“Army dogs were successfully trained in specific biomarkers emanating from urine and sweat samples from positive patients. These samples do not contain live viruses, but only volatile metabolic biomarkers, which the dogs have been trained to detect. Before being brought in front of them To them, to avoid any superficial contact transmission to people who handle the dogs, the samples are first exposed to ultraviolet rays, “Saini said.
“This is the first time in India that the olfactory ability of canines has been used to detect tissues infected with pathogens that release volatile metabolic biomarkers,” he added.
The Indian army has about 1,200 dogs, of which nearly 700 are deployed, a senior official said.
“In addition to these two dogs, eight other dogs, including four Labradors, are also in training,” Saini said.
One-year-old Mani, another chippiparai dog in training, also showed off his skills during the demonstration. Mani is Jaya’s older brother.
“The use of such canines in the detection of Covid-19 can aid in the rapid and real-time detection of the disease, and help reduce the scale of RT-PCR and rapid antigen tests, which take time. And, in the Army, time is of the essence. Also, these dogs can be used at live events to filter people, “said the instructor.
Saini said the dogs detected 22 positive cases of Covid-19 in 800 samples in the Delhi transit camp and almost 3,000 samples in the Chandigarh transit camp.
“Its response time after detection is one second or even less, and the accuracy rate is greater than 90 percent,” he said.
The dogs have been trained to sit next to a sample kept in a container if it is positive for the disease and move forward after sniffing if it is negative, he added.
Positive and suspicious samples were obtained from Military Hospital, Meerut Cantonment, and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Subharti Medical College, Meerut, for the purpose of training, authorities said.
“The sensitivity and specificity of the dogs obtained from the detection of 279 urine and 267 sweat samples during the initial testing procedure was found to be very high,” said a senior official.
Scientifically, it is clear that infected body tissues release “unique volatile metabolic biomarkers,” which are used as disease signatures for disease detection by medical screening dogs, he said.
A concerted effort has been made to train an indigenous breed of dog under the initiative of the prime minister of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ in addition to a cocker spaniel to detect the ‘volatiloma of Covid-19 disease from urine samples and sweat from cases positive by a comparative method “. the official said.
These dogs are constantly monitored by their handlers, and their body temperature is recorded in the morning and at night, officials said.

Times of India

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