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Time for drug sniffing dogs to find a new job

… and we’ve got one for them.

On the Covid Front Lines, When Not Getting Belly Rubs

The three Labradors, operating out of a university clinic in Bangkok, are part of a global corps of dogs being trained to sniff out Covid-19 in people. Preliminary studies, conducted in multiple countries, suggest that their detection rate may surpass that of the rapid antigen testing often used in airports and other public places.

“For dogs, the smell is obvious, just like grilled meat for us,” said Dr. Kaywalee Chatdarong, deputy dean of research and innovation for the faculty of veterinary science at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

The hope is that dogs can be deployed in crowded public spaces, like stadiums or transportation hubs, to identify people carrying the virus. Their skills are being developed in Thailand, the United States, France, Britain, Chile, Australia, Belgium and Germany, among other countries. They have patrolled airports in Finland, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, and private companies have used them at American sporting events.

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2 comments to Time for drug sniffing dogs to find a new job

  • Son of Sam Walton

    Let’s train K9s to sniff out emotions. I’m assuming depression and PTSD have chemicals involved. Hospitals, nursing homes, VA clinics, halfway homes, jails, prisons . . . could all have a few dogs simply walking up to people whose senses are in depression. If depression is said to create the death of grey matter in the brain, or self-destruction, then possibly it has a chemical smell. This would also work with all sorts of mood ranges, even those created from brain trauma.

    The place I work at was allowed to bring over the K9s for Christ, or just puppies. I know the old vets at the home I work at will love them. But can dogs sense emotions in strangers as well as in their owners?

    Retooling our use for dogs will work wonders in our communities. The dog won’t be the bully looking for drugs–nothing to fear from–not even a false positive.

  • Servetus

    Risk of opioid and UVB addiction is increased by vitamin D deficiencies in a rat study done at Massachusetts General Hospital:

    11-JUN-2021 — Vitamin D deficiency strongly exaggerates the craving for and effects of opioids, potentially increasing the risk for dependence and addiction, according to a new study led by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). These findings … suggest that addressing the common problem of vitamin D deficiency with inexpensive supplements could play a part in combating the ongoing scourge of opioid addiction.

    Earlier work by David E. Fisher, MD, PhD, … and his team found something unexpected: Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays (specifically the form called UVB), causes the skin to produce the hormone endorphin, which is chemically related to morphine, heroin and other opioids–in fact, all activate the same receptors in the brain. A subsequent study by Fisher found that UV exposure raises endorphin levels in mice, which then display behavior consistent with opioid addiction. […]

    Fisher believes that the only explanation for why humans and other animals seek out the sun is that exposure to UV radiation is necessary for production of vitamin D, which our bodies can’t formulate on their own. Vitamin D promotes uptake of calcium, which is essential for building bone. As tribes of humans migrated north during prehistoric times, an evolutionary alteration might have been needed to compel them to step out of caves and into the sunshine on bitterly cold days. Otherwise, small children would have died of prolonged vitamin D deficiency (the cause of rickets) and weak bones might have shattered when people ran from predators, leaving them vulnerable.

    This theory led Fisher and colleagues to hypothesize that sun seeking is driven by vitamin D deficiency, with the goal of increasing synthesis of the hormone for survival, and that vitamin D deficiency might also make the body more sensitive to the effects of opioids, potentially contributing to addiction. […]

    The study also found that morphine worked more effectively as a pain reliever in mice with vitamin D deficiency–that is, the opioid had an exaggerated response in these mice, which may be concerning if it’s true in humans, too, says Fisher. After all, consider a surgery patient who receives morphine for pain control after the operation. If that patient is deficient in vitamin D, the euphoric effects of morphine could be exaggerated, says Fisher, “and that person is more likely to become addicted.” […]

    AAAS Public News Release: Vitamin D deficiency may increase risk for addiction to opioids and ultraviolet rays: Human health records and studies of lab mice suggest that vitamin D levels influence the desire for opioids and sun-seeking behavior

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