As in-person meetings, conventions, and trade shows get set to resume in some cities despite the uncertainty of Covid-19’s delta variant, a new breed of on-site test is becoming more widely available, bringing another layer of health security to business events.
At Florida International University’s Forensic Research Institute, four scent dogs were trained earlier this year to identify humans who are infected with Covid-19. Specifically, the canines can identify the odor produced by metabolic changes in people carrying the virus.
Last spring, the dogs were used at the entrance of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival to maximize the health security of the event, which took place under several outdoor tents. Presently, the dogs are being used at Miami International Airport and at Miami’s cruise-ship port to detect anyone infected with Covid-19.
For meetings and events happening in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area in the future, the dogs are available to perform scent testing at the entrance to host venues for a fee. If an attendee is identified by a canine as having the scent, that person can undergo a Covid rapid test in a private area to get certainty.
“Our canine cohort was the first in the world to earn the Covid certification,” says Kenneth Furton, FIU’s provost and COO. “It can take a few weeks for a dog to become proficient at recognizing an odor,” which requires that they are correct more than 90 percent of the time and have few false positives. “The certification takes it one step further in terms of the dog’s ability to perform in a real-world environment.”
FIU’s Forensic Research Institute has also worked with canines in organizations outside South Florida, such as the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office in Massachusetts, to train them to identify the scent associated with Covid-19. There are other institutes around the country that train dogs to detect Covid-19; planners could contact a destination’s convention and visitors bureau to learn about the possibilities locally. For South Florida events, planners can inquire about the scent dogs at [email protected].