NEW DELHI: Indian Army has trained three dogs -- two local breeds and a Cocker Spaniel -- to detect coronavirus among soldiers before they move for operational deployments.
Army says these dogs detect the cases with 95% accuracy on the basis of urine and sweat samples of the troops within seconds. Currently, they are deployed at Chandigarh transit camp.
During the display of the dogs' capability organised by the Army in Delhi, one-year-old Jaya (Chippiparai) and two-year-old Casper identified the infected samples among many negative samples by sitting beside the one with Covid pathogen. Also, one-year-old Mani (sibling of Jaya, Chippiparai) showed the same skill.
Lt Col Surinder Saini said: "Medical detection dogs are pretty well established in the western countries. This is for the first time we use canine in India to detect a human disease when the virus (pathogen) enters the body.”
“The pathogen causes damage to tissues leading to emanating volatile metabolic biomarkers in urine and sweat samples. Dogs with their ultra-sensitive olfactory capability can distinguish that once trained," added Indian Army’s Veterinary Officer Lt Col Surinder Saini.
A concerted effort has been made to train Chippiparai dogs, an indigenous breed under PM’s initiative of 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' and also a Cocker Spaniel to detect the pathogens of COVID-19 from urine and sweat samples of positive cases by the comparative method.
Positive and suspected samples were obtained from Military Hospital, Meerut Cantt and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Subharti Medical College, Meerut, for the purpose of training.
The sensitivity and specificity of Jaya and Casper were obtained from the screening of 279 urine and 267 sweat samples during the initial trial procedure were found to be very high. The results have shown 90% efficacy.
After the training dogs were deployed in November 2020 at a Transit Camp in Delhi for the screening of transients, a total of 806 transients were screened. Both the dogs have been deployed at Chandigarh Transit Camp since December and are presently being used for screening of transients moving to operational. More than 3000 samples have been screened so far by these dogs.
Till date, 22 samples have been found positive by the COVID-19 detection dogs. From the trials and operational deployment, it has been inferred that trained dogs can help in the quick and real-time detection of disease. Keeping in mind the success of the trial, more dogs have been incorporated in training for COVID-19 detection.
As per the Army, this effort will turn out to be the part of detectable disease signatures, thereby paving the way forward for real-time detection of various medical diseases by use of trained medical detection dog. Since 1989 medical detection dogs in western countries.
Jaya and Casper were given 16 weeks of training before their deployment. The general period of training is 36 weeks.
“There are eight more dogs undergoing training in the Remount Veterinary Corps (RVC) College and Centre Meerut and will be ready for deployment by March,” told Lt Col Saini. The present breeds among the lot of 10 dogs include three Cocker Spaniels, three Chippiparai, and four Labradors.