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COVID-19: First Airport In US Using Trained Dogs To Detect Virus

One Betta from the COVID-19 K9 Unit
One Betta from the COVID-19 K9 Unit Photo Credit: Miami International Airport

An airport has become the first in the United States to test out COVID-19 detecting dogs.

During the 30-day pilot program, the two dogs, named Cobra and One Betta, will help screen employees for COVID at Miami International Airport, the airport said in an announcement on Wednesday, Sept. 8.

Cobra is a Belgian Malinois and One Betta is a Dutch Shepherd.

The airport said both dogs were trained with protocols created by the Global Forensic and Justice Center at Florida International University.

The two dogs were trained to alert to the scent of COVID from masks of those who tested positive, with the virus first eradicated by ultraviolet rays before testing. Individuals will then be directed to get a rapid COVID test, MIA said. 

Cobra and One Betta achieved accuracy rates from 96 to 99 percent during training sessions at FIU, the announcement added. 

"Being able to apply decades of research in this way, to provide an additional layer of protection to airport employees at Miami International Airport, it’s humbling," said Dr. Kenneth Furton, FIU provost and professor of chemistry and biochemistry. "These dogs are another valuable tool we can leverage to help us live with this ongoing pandemic."

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