The power of a dog’s nose could be the latest COVID-19 detection tool fortravelers.

Miami International Airport is two weeks into a pilot program using twoCOVID-19 detecting canines to screen American Airline employees for the virusat a security checkpoint, according to airport officials in a news releaseThursday.

In an airport first, Miami has partnered with the Global Forensic and JusticeCenter at Florida International University and American Airlines to screenemployees. If successful, it may move to busier parts of the airport.

“Dogs could be more sensitive than some of our instruments and detect thevirus sooner,” Kenneth Furton, provost at Florida International University andscent-detection scholar, told USA TODAY.

Cobra, a Belgian Malinois, and One Betta, a Dutch Shepherd, have already madetwo possible alerts. One employee was unable to be tested and the secondemployee had a negative PCR test, but had recently gotten over the virus,according to Furton.

The dogs have a 96% to 99% detection rate and were quick learners, whichFurton credits with previous training they received to detect laurel wilt, afungus that can kill certain trees.

“If you’re training a brand new dog, it can take two or three months,” Furtonsaid. “It only took two or three days for these dogs and three weeks for themto become proficient.” breath and sweat after the virus causes metabolicchanges in a person, according to a news release from the airport.

Cobra and One Betta were previously deployed to Florida Gov. Ron Desantisemergency operation center and were searching for surfaces contaminated withthe virus. They were also used at the South Beach Food and Wine festivalsearching for people possibly infected with COVID-19.

Furton said the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has come down towatch the dogs in action.

“There’s talk about the program moving to other airports, but nothing is inthe works yet,” he said.

Source: USA Today

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