Dogs Trained to “Sniff Out” Birds infected with AI Virus


According to a recent news item in JAVMA* Colorado State University and the National Wildlife Research Center are cooperating on a project to determine whether dogs can detect wild birds infected with avian influenza virus (AIV).

The project led by Dr. Richard Bowen of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at CSU. Dogs have been trained to detect some olfactory markers associated with AIV in infected mice and ferrets.  It is hoped that the project will extend to birds since a trained dog will be able to screen for AIV quickly and effectively in hunter-killed or trapped migratory waterfowl.

Trained dogs have been trained to identify humans with diabetic ketosis and can identify urine samples from patients with bladder cancer. In these and similar applications there is a known compound that can be detected by the sensitive olfactory ability of trained dogs. The principle by which AIV infection in birds can be detected has yet to be explained.


*Mattson, K. Colorado State University, USDA Trained dogs to sniff out bird flu. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 254: 765