How to safely use smell tests in relation to corona virus

Yesterday the German Society for Otolaryngology made a recommendation including the safe and hygienic use of smell tests. We are getting a lot of questions about how the Sniffin’ Sticks can be used safely in relation to the corona virus.

The complete publication can be downloaded through this link. Unfortunately this publication is only available in German but we have translated the part (1.f) about smell testing in English:

Corona safe smell testing

With regard to smell tests, it should be ensured that the distance rules to the patient must be observed, both by the examiner and the test person/ patient. A single-use smell test system should be used here (such as the scratch-and-sniff tests from Sensonics: UPSIT-40 test/ Smell Identification Test, B-SIT/ Brief Smell Identification Test or pocket smell test for screening).

Regarding the use of the reusable tests such as the Burghart Sniffin´ Sticks; please note that if the Sniffin’ Sticks are presented directly under the patient’s nose, a contamination during exhalation cannot be excluded. Alternatively you can use the following method to safely use the sticks.

Corona safe method for Sniffin’ Sticks

You can use the following method for the Sniffin’ Sticks identification, screening and discrimination tests. You can use these cellulose paper strips which have been developed especially for the Sniffin’ Sticks.

You can open the Sniffin’ Stick in the test area at a sufficient distance from the patient. You take the paper strip and draw a stripe of about 2 cm on the paper with the Sniffin’ Stick. After this you can close the stick. The examiner hands the paper over to the test person and the test person smells the line on the paper and answers the question. The sheet of paper can then be discarded and the procedure can be repeated for the next stick.

Since the screening, identification and discrimination tests contain an above-threshold fragrance concentrations, a negligible deviation from the results of the otherwise usual testing is to be expected. However, in this procedure it should be taken into account that this is associated with faster consumption of the sticks and reduces the shelf life / durability of the sticks.

Threshold test

Unfortunately it is not possible to use this method with the threshold test. At this moment we do not have a corona safe solution for the Sniffin’ Sticks threshold tests but any suggestions are welcome.