Video_1_Discrimination of SARS-CoV-2 Infections From Other Viral Respiratory Infections by Scent Detection Dogs.MOV (14.9 MB)
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Video_1_Discrimination of SARS-CoV-2 Infections From Other Viral Respiratory Infections by Scent Detection Dogs.MOV

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posted on 18.11.2021, 04:34 by Nele Alexandra ten Hagen, Friederike Twele, Sebastian Meller, Paula Jendrny, Claudia Schulz, Maren von Köckritz-Blickwede, Ab Osterhaus, Hans Ebbers, Isabell Pink, Tobias Welte, Michael Peter Manns, Thomas Illig, Anahita Fathi, Marylyn Martina Addo, Andreas Nitsche, Andreas Puyskens, Janine Michel, Eva Krause, Rosina Ehmann, Albrecht von Brunn, Christiane Ernst, Katrin Zwirglmaier, Roman Wölfel, Alexandra Nau, Eva Philipp, Michael Engels, Esther Schalke, Holger Andreas Volk

Background: Testing of possibly infected individuals remains cornerstone of containing the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Detection dogs could contribute to mass screening. Previous research demonstrated canines' ability to detect SARS-CoV-2-infections but has not investigated if dogs can differentiate between COVID-19 and other virus infections.

Methods: Twelve dogs were trained to detect SARS-CoV-2 positive samples. Three test scenarios were performed to evaluate their ability to discriminate SARS-CoV-2-infections from viral infections of a different aetiology. Naso- and oropharyngeal swab samples from individuals and samples from cell culture both infected with one of 15 viruses that may cause COVID-19-like symptoms were presented as distractors in a randomised, double-blind study. Dogs were either trained with SARS-CoV-2 positive saliva samples (test scenario I and II) or with supernatant from cell cultures (test scenario III).

Results: When using swab samples from individuals infected with viruses other than SARS-CoV-2 as distractors (test scenario I), dogs detected swab samples from SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals with a mean diagnostic sensitivity of 73.8% (95% CI: 66.0–81.7%) and a specificity of 95.1% (95% CI: 92.6–97.7%). In test scenario II and III cell culture supernatant from cells infected with SARS-CoV-2, cells infected with other coronaviruses and non-infected cells were presented. Dogs achieved mean diagnostic sensitivities of 61.2% (95% CI: 50.7–71.6%, test scenario II) and 75.8% (95% CI: 53.0–98.5%, test scenario III), respectively. The diagnostic specificities were 90.9% (95% CI: 87.3–94.6%, test scenario II) and 90.2% (95% CI: 81.1–99.4%, test scenario III), respectively.

Conclusion: In all three test scenarios the mean specificities were above 90% which indicates that dogs can distinguish SARS-CoV-2-infections from other viral infections. However, compared to earlier studies our scent dogs achieved lower diagnostic sensitivities. To deploy COVID-19 detection dogs as a reliable screening method it is therefore mandatory to include a variety of samples from different viral respiratory tract infections in dog training to ensure a successful discrimination process.