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The promise of disease detection dogs in pandemic response: lessons learned from COVID-19

Cynthia M. Otto, Tara Kirk Sell, Tener Goodwin Veenema, Divya Hosangadi, Rachel A. Vahey, Nancy D. Connell, Lois Privor-Dumm
Date posted:
June 09, 2021
Publication type:
Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2021
Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc.
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One of the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is the utility of an early, flexible and rapidly deployable disease screening and detection response. The largely uncontrolled spread of the pandemic in the United States exposed a range of planning and implementation shortcomings, which if they had been in place before the pandemic emerged, may have changed the trajectory. Disease screening by detection dogs show great promise as a non-invasive, efficient, and cost-effective screening method for COVID-19 infection. We explore evidence of their use in infectious and chronic diseases, the training, oversight, resources required for implementation, and potential uses in various settings. Disease detection dogs may contribute to the current and future public health pandemics; however, further research is needed to extend our knowledge and measurement of their effectiveness and feasibility as a public health intervention tool and efforts are needed ensure public and political support.



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