Miami International Airport tests sniffer dogs for Covid-19 – Robb Report

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Looks like authorities have found a new use for a familiar, furry security tactic.

Miami International Airport recently revealed that it was hosting a pilot Covid-19 detector dog program in September. Approved in March 2021 by the Board of County Commissioners, the month-long program makes MIA the first U.S. airport to test sniffer dogs for Covid. The Miami-Dade Department of Aviation hosts the program in partnership with the Global Forensic and Justice Center (GFJC), Florida International University (FIU) and American Airlines. Miami-Dade County Commissioner Kionne L. McGhee sponsored the program to help the airport’s ongoing efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

Two furry detectors – Cobra, a Belgian Malinois, and One Betta, a Dutch Shepard – were specially trained for the program based on protocols created by the GFJC and CRF, and are now expected to detect and respond immediately to the virus within public spaces. . Both dogs have undergone hundreds of CRF training sessions Modesto Maidique Campus in Miami this year, and double-blind, peer-reviewed tracks have shown positive results. Experts have noticed that dogs’ accuracy rates for detecting Covid-19 have increased from 96% to 99% during testing.

When it comes to how dogs exactly identify carriers of the virus, it all comes down to a smell. The virus causes metabolic changes in a person that result in the production of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These compounds are then excreted when a person breathes and sweats. Apparently, these metabolic changes are common to all people, regardless of their individual smells. Both MIA dogs were trained to detect this common, but specific, scent. If any of the K9s indicate that a traveler smells of the virus, airport officials will order the individual to receive a prompt Covid test.

One of two dogs in MIA’s Covid-19 canine unit.

Courtesy of Miami International Airport

Detector dogs have been used by federal and local agencies across the country for years to detect banned currency, drugs, explosives, and agriculture, all primarily based on odors. (Some studies claim that detector dogs can also identify people with other serious illnesses, such as diabetes, epilepsy, and various cancers.) Biochemistry, Dr Kenneth G. Furton, this is exactly why the program has been successful.

Being able to apply decades of research in this way, to provide an extra layer of protection for airport employees at Miami International Airport, is a lesson in humility, ”said Furton ina statement on the program. “These dogs are another valuable tool that we can use to help us live with this ongoing pandemic. In the same statement, Miami Dade-Country Mayor Daniella Levine Cava also shared her thoughts on the program and what could happen when it ends at the end of the month. “We are proud to do everything possible to protect our residents,” she said. “I look forward to seeing how the airport tests their skills and expanding the pilot program to other facilities in the county.”


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