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University of Adelaide researchers are working with international partners to train sniffer dogs to detect COVID-19 infection.

It is hoped the first COVID-19 detection dogs could be working within months and would complement existing methods by providing low cost, instantaneous, and reliable screening.

Dogs could be deployed in airports and also be used to screen staff in hospitals and travellers in quarantine.

Previous research has shown dogs can detect the presence of specific Volatile Olfactory Compounds (VOCs) caused by a viral infection in people.

Environment Institute’s Dr Anne-Lise Chaber and Dr Susan Hazel from the University of Adelaide’s School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences are coordinating the Australian arm of this international alliance, with local dogs being made available through organisations in various States.

This includes Detector Dogs Australia, based in Melbourne.

They said the study would test the sensitivity and specificity of canine olfactory detection of VOCs induced by COVID-19 in comparison to those of standard diagnostic laboratory testing.

The international team, led out of the National Veterinary School in Alfort, France, has preliminary results showing specialized working dogs can detect COVID-19 VOCs in patients, with some recording a 100% success rate.

Promising indications also show dogs trained in this way are able to identify infected individuals prior to the development of symptoms, or in those who are otherwise asymptomatic.

This would be a powerful tool for effective control of COVID-19 in Australia.

“Dogs are trained in the same way as dogs that detect explosives. If results from our local study are positive we will be able to move to the clinical screening phase,’’ Dr Chaber said.

“According to recent studies, dogs are not susceptible to SARS-CoV2 and the virus cannot replicate in them.

“COVID-19 dog detectors will be a reliable, repeatable, cheap, easy and fast way to screen or pre-screen potential cases.

“This tool will become crucial when borders reopen or if we face another wave.”

Original post featured in the News.

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Native bees severely impacted by Kangaroo Island bushfires this year are being built new homes in a collaborative project involving the local community and scientists from the University of Adelaide and SA Museum. The green carpenter bee (Xylocopa aerata) has been extinct on mainland South Australia for more than a century – and scientists worry that […]

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We are immensely proud of our researchers’ achievements, receiving two Future Fellowships today. In the ARC Future Fellowships 2020 round 1, Environment Institute member and ARC DECRA fellow Dr Camille Mellin, of the Fordham Lab has received $739,557.00. Her research will summary includes: Safeguarding coral reef fisheries for future food security. This Fellowship aims to […]

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From ambitions of full-blown economic revolution to small personal changes, there are a broad range of positions to combat climate change. Congratulations to Jack Tibby, winner of the PlanetFix competition. We asked high school students for their climate change solution. Here is his opinion piece. But the issue with many is they fail to hold […]

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Our world faces major environmental challenges. Congratulations to Sasha Saulwick first runner up in the PlanetFix competition. We asked high school students for their climate change solution. Here is her opinion piece. We are seeing increases in severe weather events and natural disasters such as drought, flash floods and fires. Communities are suffering from record […]

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PlanetFix reflects the passion young people have towards the environmental challenges facing their generation. In collaboration with the Advertiser and SA Science Teachers Association, the Environment Institution ran a competition for South Australian high school students. They were asked “In 50 words or less, what is your best solution to climate change?”. We were shown this […]

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Reflecting the current environment, this special presentation of Research Tuesdays will be an online seminar. Space exploration of any kind is difficult. Doing it for extended periods with human crews is a challenge beyond imagining. Something that would help immeasurably, however, would be the ability to identify and extract resources and use them to manufacture […]

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Why are plant and animal species in Australia becoming extinct as fast as ever. Why is it happening? And what would it take to reverse the decline? In this article, Chair of the Environment Institute Board, Professor Possingham speaks of the devastation caused to flora and fauna since colonisation occurred in Australia. The country has lost […]

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Public Engagement in Science and Technology Adelaide (PESTA) is an interdisciplinary research cluster which seeks to improve public engagement in fields associated with STEM. Professor Frank Grützner will be speaking at the next event. When: Wednesday, 22nd July 2020, 10:00am – 11:00am Where: Online RSVP: pesta@adelaide.edu.au and for more information about the seminar. Title: Using Citizen Science for Research […]

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