Miami International Airport to Start Using COVID-19 Detection Dogs in New Study


Americans may soon see coronavirus sniffer dogs at airports and other places as the United States relaxes pandemic restrictions and enters a “new normal.”

Starting later this month, Miami International Airport will use COVID-19 detection dogs to screen employee checkpoints in a six-month pilot study.

Two to four dogs, trained at the International Institute for Forensic Research at Florida International University, will screen employees three days a week as part of the study, which could extend to departing passengers, Kenneth said. Furton, provost and university director of operations.

The demand for COVID-19 detection dogs to screen travelers could increase as travel resumes, said Furton, founder of the International Forensic Research Institute (IFRI).

“I think the demand for some of the events is probably going to decrease, but I think at the screening points there might be an increase because even though in the United States the number of people vaccinated has increased to the point that we are getting back to a kind of next normal, ”he said. “When you’re dealing with cruise ships or airlines or wherever we’re going to have a significant international presence, they can be used effectively. [in] that kind of areas. I think there may be an increase in demand.

Four dogs trained to detect COVID-19 at university reportedly became the first in the country last month to be certified to detect the coronavirus. A Belgian Malinois, a Dutch Shepherd and two small rescue dogs make up the certified coronavirus detection team.

A panel of outside observers certified the dogs based on protocols defined by the Scientific Working Group on Dog and Orthogonal Detector Guidelines, an IFRI program that aims to improve the performance of detector dog teams.

The dogs were first deployed to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee and have been working on the FIU Miami campus since January to detect COVID-19 on surfaces as one of the university security measures.

The university used the detection dogs at its student center and classrooms to search for areas with potentially infected students and staff and to identify areas of contamination that required a thorough cleaning, Mr. Furton.

In future pilot studies, dogs will screen people and identify specific people who may be infected with COVID-19.

Dogs participating in pilot studies at a government center and seaport in Miami-Dade County are also mentioned, Furton said.

In Myakka City, a few hundred kilometers northwest of Miami, BioScent DX Inc. trains and deploys dogs to detect cancer and other fatal diseases. The company is training more than 60 dogs to detect COVID-19.

Most BioScent dogs are beagles and nine are a mix of beagle and basset hound, said Heather Junqueira, founder and CEO of the company.

Ms Junqueira said she decided to train beagles because they have a good work ethic and the third highest number of scent receptors, after bloodhounds and bassets.

The dog trainer has a few requests for the COVID-19 detection dogs, including screening at a concert in Austin, Texas in October and the construction site of a complex in Atlanta for the basketball league. ball Overtime Elite.

“Where dogs offer a huge advantage is that you can screen people in a second to two seconds. So you know if you need to get those people to do a diagnostic test then,” Ms. Junqueira said. The point of dogs is not to replace a PCR test, the point of dogs is to screen people to say, “Hey, this person needs to be tested.”

“I think with COVID-19 we have seen how small our world is and how quickly things can spread. And I think we have to be prepared, you know, if a different virus were to present itself to prevent future pandemics. We already have dogs ready to go and ready to be scented, ”she said. “Say, all of a sudden there is an outbreak of a new virus and we suspect it is moving this way, we can get samples and train dogs very quickly to deploy which can prevent individuals from dying. ‘enter the United States with a new virus. “

“Dogs really present a line of defense that we could use in the future for several different viruses, not just COVID,” she said.

Dogs have up to 300 million scent receptors, while humans have about 6 million. Scientists around the world are training coronavirus sniffer dogs that could be deployed to screen people in high traffic areas such as schools and airports, and be associated with diagnostic testing programs.

Some countries abroad have already turned to detector dogs to screen many travelers at once, including airports in the United Arab Emirates and Helsinki-Vantaa Airport in Finland.

In the United States, coronavirus detector dogs have been used at sporting events, including Miami Heat basketball games and NASCAR races.

According to Furton, the dogs at the FIU have detected COVID with an accuracy of more than 95%. BioScent dogs were able to accurately detect the coronavirus 98% of the time, Ms. Junqueira said.

The University of Pennsylvania is conducting its own COVID-19 canine odor detection study. At the end of April, the university’s school of veterinary medicine launched a pilot program to train eight dogs to detect COVID-19. Researchers, with help from the military, expose dogs to COVID-19 positive saliva and urine samples in a lab, a process called scent printing, as part of the training process.

The initial screening of people for these dogs could begin as early as July.

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