The latest COVID-19 detector dog research and testing began today at Adelaide Airport.
Six dogs, including four Australian Border Force (ABF) search dogs, a South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service (SAMFS) dog and a University of Adelaide dog (donated by the ABF), have started research at Adelaide Airport to determine the feasibility Determine the use of dogs to detect COVID-19.
The COVID-19 detector dog feasibility studies are a collaboration between the ABF and the University of Adelaide’s School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, SAMFS, the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, and NSW and SA State Health.
Following positive results from the controlled phase 1 studies at the University of Adelaide and the ABF National Detector Dog Program Facility in Melbourne, from 15.
The results of the Sydney Studies provided scientific results that require further research to test the dogs’ effectiveness in detecting COVID-infectious people from sweat samples. First, additional controlled research studies will be conducted in Adelaide to test the results of the Sydney studies. If successful, SA Health has indicated support for the start of operational tests with “live” samples from passengers arriving on repatriation flights. The submission of a sweat sample by the passenger would be voluntary during the trial period.
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 an international research alliance led by the National Veterinary School in Alfort, France.
“Detection dogs may be able to provide more precise information on whether a person is infectious than is currently happening in the hotel quarantine and in the community,” said Dr. Chaber.
“With a scientific approach to dog training, we hope to increase the number of uses for future work with detection dogs,” said Dr. Chaber.
The results of the most recent studies are expected to be released in the second half of 2021 and will provide guidance on whether the next phase should be community studies.
Acting ABF Commander John Taylor said these processes add to the Australian government’s commitment to fighting the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 detector dogs could potentially provide an efficient, reliable and complementary screening method as part of a future suite of biosecurity strategies in Australia, should research and field trials produce successful results.
“The ABF’s work has been an integral part of the Australian Government’s efforts to slow the transmission of COVID-19 across our border and keep travelers and supply chains moving,” said Acting ABF Commander John Taylor.
“The ABF is committed to strengthening Australian border security and remains a leader in technology and skills development. This will ensure the ABF is well positioned to implement new reinforced border control measures to protect the Australian community from COVID-19 and other pandemics. “
“This project leverages the expertise of the ABF Detector Dog Program, which is supported by national and international partners from the public and private sectors, with broader expertise in the areas of human biosecurity, virology and health sciences.”
“A dog’s ability to indicate that a person is infectious when they have not yet had a positive polymerase chain reaction test will, with earlier intervention, help manage a possible spread of the virus.”
Col Hunter, First Assistant Secretary, Biosecurity Operations for the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, said it was great to be involved in this project.
“Our biosecurity detector dogs are an integral part of Australia’s frontline defense against biosecurity pests and diseases, and we are constantly looking for new, innovative ways to capitalize on their talents,” said Hunter.
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