Coronavirus: Pokaa is a corona sniffer dog in the nursing home

Kunheim (France) – Pokaa has an extremely fine and well-developed sense of smell: The Golden Retriever can sniff out corona infections, including virus variants.

He was trained Pokaa at “Handi’chiens”, an association that specializes in training assistance dogs. Since Friday, the dog has been France’s first corona sniffer used in a retirement home. Operational area: “La Roselière” in Kunheim, Alsace, near the German border.

The residents of the nursing home in Alsace find the dog’s presence pleasantPhoto: SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

So far there have been several dog studies that have looked at sniffing out coronavirus infections. Result: Specially trained dogs have a higher hit rate than corona rapid tests.

Pokaa is able to “identify all known virus variants”, says Alain Legrand, head of “Handi’chiens”. Success rate: 100 percent in symptomatic cases, 95 percent in asymptomatic cases. In the latter case, the dog could even “detect the virus about 48 hours before the PCR tests”.

The welding samples are packed in a bag and box

The welding samples are packed in a bag and boxPhoto: SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

Pierre Kohser, doctor in “La Roselière”, finds Pokaa’s abilities “quite amazing”. The tests are also simple, inexpensive and are well received by residents, some of whom have Alzheimer’s disease.

Pokaa sniffs the samples - with a hit rate of up to 100 percent

Pokaa sniffs the samples – with a hit rate of up to 100 percentPhoto: SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

For a test, all you have to do is press a small piece of cloth under your armpit for about five minutes. The sample is then packed in a sterile bag and in a cardboard box. If the sniffer dog sniffed out a positive case, it sits down. Pokaa’s diagnosis is then checked with a PCR test.

Resident Christophe Fritsch (85), who fell ill with Corona last year, prefers this type of test to chopsticks: “This is no comparison. It is very pleasant.”

Like other nursing homes in France, “La Roselière”, with its 127 residents and 110 employees, was hit hard by the first two waves of corona. Of the around 112,000 corona deaths in France to date, more than 26,000 are in nursing homes and special facilities.


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