A sharp truffle against the Covid-19.

Since Friday, Pokaa, a 2-year-old golden retriever, has been showing off his flair at the Ehpad La Roselière in Kunheim, in the Haut-Rhin.

Its mission: to detect any positive cases.

A “first” in France in a retirement home.

Resident of this establishment in the Colmar region, Christophe Fritsch has already had to deal with Covid tests.

Last year, this 85-year-old former horticulturalist was struck by the virus.

He got out of it but when asked what he thinks of the tests conducted by Pokaa, the octogenarian does not hide his preference: “it does not compare.

It's very pleasant (…) we compress a small piece of tissue "under the armpit and" after five minutes, we remove.

A PCR test is still more complicated… ”

Sweat-soaked samples

Handled with gloves so as not to imprint on them another body odor, the samples impregnated with sweat are placed in sterile bags, then placed in boxes.

The dog sniffs them one after the other and sits down if it detects a positive case.

A PCR test will then confirm what his flair has detected.

What its sharp nose detects is the “Spike” protein, the one by which the virus enters cells to infect them, explains Alain Legrand, CEO of Handi'chiens, an association specializing in the education of dogs. assistance for people with disabilities, from which Pokaa comes.

"It's quite impressive ..."

Handi'chiens has four education centers in France, including one in Kunheim, adjacent to La Roselière. During tests carried out last week in the nursing home on samples from the Strasbourg hospital, Pokaa recognized "100%" the positives and the negatives, explains Dr Pierre Kohser, doctor of La Roselière. It's quite impressive… ”Able to“ identify all the known variants ”, Pokaa scores“ 100% on symptomatic ”and“ 95% on asymptomatic ”, a category that is crucial to identify, continues Alain Great. In the latter, it can even "detect the virus about 48 hours before the PCR tests".

If the idea of ​​dogs detecting diseases (cancer, epilepsy, etc.) is not new - a Covid-19 detection experiment by canines took place in Corsica in 2020 - the novelty with Pokaa is that he is currently the only sniffer dog for Covid "in an nursing home in France", explains Alain Legrand.

A "four week" training

The olfactory qualities of Pokaa, which was already involved in about twenty nursing homes as a mediation dog, are the result of a "four week" training at the National Veterinary School of Alfort to follow the Nosaïs method. Covid19 by Pr Dominique Grandjean, explains Christelle Schreiber, dog trainer at Handi'chiens. Pokaa was trained there with two other dogs from the association, specifies Benoît Seewald, head of the Handi'chiens center in Kunheim. For the time being, only Pokaa exercises its Covid-19 jurisdiction.

The association, which funded the training of its three dogs, would now like to see this system spread to other establishments.

However, unthinkable without the financial assistance of the public authorities: Handi'chiens, who lives mainly on donations, cannot provide for the training of its 250 dogs, explain Alain Legrand and Pierre Kohser, for whom "support from the health authorities would really be one more ".


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  • Covid 19

  • Coronavirus

  • Dog

  • Ehpad

  • Health

  • Strasbourg