Saturday 19 October 2019

Dogs detect odour emitted during epileptic seizures

Stock Image: PA
Stock Image: PA

Sally Wardle

Dogs can detect a smell associated with epileptic seizures, new research suggests.

A small study, published in the 'Scientific Reports' journal, found trained dogs were able to distinguish between an odour emitted during a human seizure and one taken following exercise.

The findings suggest epileptic seizures have a specific odour, and could pave the way for a new method of anticipating fits before they occur.

Advance warning would help sufferers ensure they are in a safe environment beforehand.

Dogs have already been shown to sniff out breast cancer, lung cancer and diabetes.

Some people with epilepsy already rely on the animals to alert others to seizures.

In this study, researchers from the University of Rennes in France presented three female and two male trained dogs with seven cans on nine occasions.

Only one of them contained breath or body odour taken from an unknown patient with epilepsy during a seizure.

Two dogs identified the can containing the seizure odour 67pc of the time, while the remaining three dogs identified the right one every time.

"This study, in which trained dogs were confronted with bodily odours from epileptic patients sampled during and outside seizures, shows that these dogs were clearly able to discriminate the seizure odours from odours of the same patient outside seizures and for all patients tested," the authors reported.

"From the first trial, they responded to the 'right' odour and explored it longer than any of the other odours.

"This clearly demonstrates there is indeed a seizure-specific odour across individuals and types of seizures."

Irish Independent

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