Dogs detecting scent of COVID-19 in Florida is latest effort in fight against virus

Dogs can accurately detect COVID-19 by more than 90 percent

Dogs detecting the coronavirus at the entrances of sports venues and theme parks in Central Florida could soon be a normal thing, according to a professor at Florida International University.

Dr. Kenneth Furton is a professor of both chemistry and biochemistry.

He also serves as the provost of the university and said dogs can accurately detect COVID-19 by more than 90 percent.

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Furton said for the past six months, the university has been training dogs to do detective work at the scene of COVID-19 in rooms and theaters.

The school said nine out of 10 times the dogs can detect someone infected with COVID-19.

Researchers collect used facial coverings from COVID-19 confirmed positive patients at a nearby hospital for training the dogs.

If a dog is already trained to detect scents, Furton said training for COVID-19 detection could take about two weeks.

Furton said theme parks such as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando Resort may consider using the COVID-19 sniffing dogs as another level of protection.

“Certainly, in Orlando with all of the theme parks, it could be a very viable option. Rapid tests, maybe you can get the results in 45 minutes, these dogs will give you a response in seconds,” Furton said.

Furton also said currently there are three of the school’s COVID-19 sniffing dogs are deployed in Tallahassee with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Emergency Operations Center.

These dogs actively scan rooms for the virus.

FIU said another trained dog has been scanning the campus and classrooms.

“We are using them primarily in areas so that we can do deep cleaning because you know, it could be a room or identifying the filters, they have a room that might have had a positive COVID-19 person in it,” Dr. Furton said.

At a sporting venue, Furton said dogs can detect the virus by separating people six feet apart while scanning.

About the Author:

Troy graduated from California State University Northridge with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication. He has reported on Mexican drug cartel violence on the El Paso/ Juarez border, nuclear testing facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory and severe Winter weather in Michigan.