Medical Chief of Staff Explains the Use of Dogs in Tracking Respiratory Illnesses

Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 3, 2021 (SKNIS): Medical Chief of Staff at the JNF General Hospital in St. Kitts, Dr. Cameron Wilkinson, said that dogs can be useful in tracking people with respiratory illnesses but that they cannot locate someone who is positive with the COVID-19 virus.

Dr. Wilkinson explained this during his presentation at the Prime Minister’s Virtual Forum Series ‘Leadership Matters’ on February 2, 2021.

“When someone has a respiratory infection, they produce secretions, and animals can be trained to sniff out these secretions,” he said.

“There was a study that was done where they got eight dogs to sniff persons who were positive for COVID and had respiratory illnesses to see whether or not they were able to identify these secretions and they found that they were able to identify the persons who were infected with respiratory symptoms with a very high degree of sensitivity and specificity and based on that they were able to train dogs to sniff out these secretions,” said Dr. Wilkinson.

“The dogs will not be able to detect someone who is carrying the virus who is asymptomatic because the sniffing is not sniffing out the virus but the chemicals that are produced when you have a respiratory infection and so there are some limitations to that,” Dr. Wilkinson added.

“When persons hear about the sniffing, they would assume that you can put the dog at the airport and if someone is positive for COVID-19, they can sniff that person out,” said Dr. Wilkinson. However, he said that this cannot be further from the truth. -30-

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