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Manatee County nonprofit is training dogs to sniff out COVID-19

MYAKKA CITY, Fla. — Dogs could be the next tool for detecting COVID-19.

BioScent K9, a Manatee County nonprofit, says they’re training dogs to sniff out the virus, and the results are promising.

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Since March, BioScent K9 in Myakka City has been working to find out whether dogs can sniff out COVID-19.

The organization uses beagles and beagle-basset hound mixes because they can smell more than 40 times better than humans.

The dogs have been training to smell the virus using COVID-positive nasal swabs. BioScent founder Heather Junqueira says they have a 98 percent accuracy rate.

Now, the dogs are training to smell COVID-19 through human sweat so they can be used to sniff out the virus in public places.

“Their noses work very differently than ours. We breathe in and out through the same passages. But dogs breathe in one passage and out another so they can separate out the odor that they want to focus on,” said Junqueira.

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Junqueira says the dogs are being trained to be used in schools, stadium lines and at airports to sniff out the virus. She says BioScent also recently partnered with 27 Health, who is testing a device that can immediately detect the virus through a saliva test.

That way when a dog detects COVID-19, the person can immediately be tested for the virus.

“We really want to bring society back to what it was before and I think the dogs offer us a great potential to do that,” said Junqueira.

The adult dogs being trained right now are expected to be ready to work in the public by the beginning of next year.

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