MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - Two COVID-19 detection dogs at Miami International Airport will help screen employees for the next month thanks to a new pilot program.
Cobra and Beta could be seen testing out their skills during an event on Wednesday.
“The dogs are 97% accurate,” an airport official said. “I mean, it’s the same as a PCR test, so it’s a great thing.”
The dogs come as part of a pilot program with Florida International University. Through lengthy lab testing and help from local hospitals, the dogs have been trained to alert handlers when they smell the virus.
MIA is the first airport in the U.S. to test COVID-19 detection dogs.
“We have more arsenals to help fight this COVID pandemic,” Miami-Dade Commissioner Kionne McGhee said.
During a test, one of the dogs could be seen jumping when it detected the virus.
“We basically get face coverings from patients at Baptist Health South Florida that have COVID and are recovering,” FIU Provost Kenneth Furton said. “Those who do not have COVID but have other illnesses, and we basically use ultraviolet light to kill the virus, and the odor is still there, so when you get COVID-19, you produce volatile organic compounds, it’s called. I’m a chemist, so VOCs, and those VOCs are what the dog detects.”
Experts at the event said detection dogs are one of the most reliable tools available to identify diseases.
“The dogs generalize odors, so even different variants, the dog will pick up the different variants because they don’t pick up– you could train them on one variant if you wanted, but once they’re exposed to different variants, they generalize — it’s called — and they pick up all the different variants,” Furton said.
The pilot program will last for 30 days.
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