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Dogs as Disease Detectors?

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Dogs as Disease Detectors?

Nicholas Kim, Contributor

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Dogs are loyal, trustworthy, and fun companions to keep around. However, there are much more to dogs than just being loveable and cuddly. There has been numerous reports of dogs that can detect deadly diseases from humans. Some of these diseases include malaria, some forms of cancer, and seizures. With the help of dogs, many lives were saved.

 

How did someone discover that dogs were able to detect diseases from humans? According to wire.com, a team of scientists from the Medical Research Council in Gambia visited primary schools, equipped with colored nylon socks. The socks were passed out to students ages five to fourteen and they were instructed to keep the socks on until they needed to be washed or removed for religious practices. The next day, the socks were collected for laundry, which allowed the team of scientists to gather them and mail them to a British charity. The British charity then spent the next four months training dogs to sniff out signs of malaria.

 

Malaria is just one of the many diseases of which dogs can distinguish. Malaria, also known as the plasmodium infection, is a disease caused by Anopheles Mosquitoes. Symptoms include low blood pressure, spinal cord membranes, and the dengue fever. Cases are very rare, with less than 20,000 reports in the U.S., but are commonly reported in areas such as Africa or South America. It is very crucial for dogs to recognize malaria from humans in order for them to get the proper treatments necessary.

 

There also has been numerous reports of dogs being able to detect signs of cancer from their owners. According to dogsnaturallymagazine.com, “Studies of dogs and cancer detection are based on the fact that cancerous cells release different metabolic waste products than healthy cells in the human body. The difference of smell is so significant that the dogs are able to detect it even in the early stages of cancer.” In addition, there was a report of a dog which discovered a cancerous skin tumor on its owner’s leg. Not only did the dog’s discovery help save the owner’s life, but it also improved the development of medical technology.

 

Alongside with deadly diseases, dogs are also known to predict seizures from their owners. A seizure is a sudden urge of electrical activity in the human brain. It occurs when the nerve cell activity is disturbed by some cause created from the human body. Some symptoms of seizures affect the human’s behavior and/or activity. Seizures, unlike malaria, are quite common in the states, meaning that the use of seizure response dogs are quite high.

 

Although it has been proven that dogs cannot actually see the brain waves percieved by humans, they can still sense danger from their prehabited hunting instincts. This allows them to possess this uncanny ability. However, even with their supernatural abilities, they cannot actually predict the actual seizures. It is due to the human’s reaction from the seizure starting of which they can tell something wrong is possibly going to occur.

 

All in all, dogs are amazing disease detectors and are able to help save the lives of many. Not only do they save lives, but they also improve medical technology as well as research for cures such as cancer or malaria. However, there are many more diseases in which dogs can detect. With a dog’s help, doctors and scientists can find a cure for many different diseases.

Nicholas Kim, Contributor

Nicholas Kim is an eighth grader currently attending D. Russel Parks Junior High School. He likes to draw, read, and swim in his spare time. He also enjoys...

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