Bio detection dogs sniff out bacterial pathogens in human lung

World-first study reveals dogs are able to detect lung infections at ultra-low concentrations.

From left to right: Medical Detection Dogs Lizzie, Flint and Oakley. Image: Medical Detection Dogs.

A new study by Imperial College London and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust has found that bio detection dogs trained by the charity Medical Detection Dogs have a very high level of accuracy when asked to identify bacteria associated with serious lung infections.

A major cause of lung damage in cystic fibrosis (CF) is infection with bacterial pathogens, the most prevalent of which is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, chronically infecting around 60% of the 10,000 patients in the UK by adolescence and adulthood.


The major findings, published in the European Respiratory Journal, have shown medical detection dogs can differentiate between Paeruginosa and other CF bacterial pathogens by sniffing bacteria grown in a nutrient liquid.

The study’s authors concluded that, compared with existing technologies, dogs may ultimately prove more sensitive or more affordable for screening lower airway infection in CF.