Indian Army has trained canines to detect Covid-19 virus for a quick and a real time situation for easier movements of troops. These canines — ‘Chippiparai’ and ‘Cocker Spaniel’ — have been deployed at transit camps of the force in Delhi and Chandigarh.
The Cocker Spaniel is two-years-old and is named Casper, and Chippiparai is one-year-old and is named Jaya.
Till date, 22 samples have been found positive by the Covid-19 detection dogs after screening around 3,806 troops at both the places.
Explaining how all it started, Lieutenant Colonel Surinder Saini, Instructor at Remount Veterinary Corps based in Meerut, told IANS that Indian Army undertook trials for detection of Covid-19 using the army dogs in controlled conditions after seeing the global trend of using medical detection dogs for various diseases like cancer, malaria, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and others.
There after a concerted effort was made to train an indigenous breed of dog ‘Chippiparai’ and a ‘Cocker Spaniel’ to detect the volatilome of Covid-19 disease from urine and sweat samples of positive cases by comparative method.
“Positive and suspected samples were obtained from the Military Hospital, Meerut Cantt and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Subharti Medical College, Meerut for the purpose of training,” Lieutenant Colonel Surinder Saini said.
These two dogs were successfully trained on specific biomarkers emanating from urine and sweat samples of positive patients.
Scientifically, it is evident that affected body tissues release unique volatile metabolic biomarkers which are used as disease signatures for detection of disease by the medical detection dogs.
The sensitivity and specificity of both the dogs obtained from screening of 279 urine and 267 sweat samples during the initial trial procedure was found to be very high.
After the training, the dogs were first deployed at a Transit Camp in Delhi for screening of transients and a total of 806 were screened during their deployment here.
Further, both dogs were deployed in the transit camp in Chandigarh. They were used for screening of transients moving to operational areas through the transit camp. “More than 3,000 samples have been screened so far by these dogs over there,” he said.
Keeping in mind the success of trial, around eight more dogs have been incorporated in training for Covid-19 virus detection.
In India, it is the first time the olfactory capability of canines have been exploited to detect tissues infected with pathogens releasing volatile metabolic biomarkers.
“The 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 dogs,” the officer said.
He also said that currently various countries like Britain, Finland, Russia, France, the UAE, Germany, Lebanon have started training dogs for Covid-19 detection by screening passengers at the airports and railway stations.
(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at [email protected])