Could “COVID Dogs” Help Us Return to Normal? The Miami Heat Thinks So 

Could “COVID Dogs” Help Us Return to Normal? The Miami Heat Thinks So 

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Covid dogs will now start screening fans who want to attend Miami Heat games. Because of the pandemic, many sporting events have been put on hold. Some events have been canceled and postponed, and stadiums have been empty. While fans have been allowed in certain events, it all depends on guidelines imposed by each state.

However, with the help of covid dogs, the Miami Heat hopes we can soon return to everyday life. Around 2,000 fans will get to attend each game if the dogs have given them the green light. This would keep capacity at approximately 10% to ensure safety and adherence to virus guidelines. ESPN reported that a German study determined the success rate of the dogs is about 94%.

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While this isn’t perfect, the Heat staff will still enforce known safety measures like wearing masks and social distancing. They will also perform temperature checks, scatter seat patterns, prohibit cash transactions, and limit beverage and food sales. The staff says that if people have allergies or phobias of dogs, fans can do a rapid antigen test. The test produces results in around 45 minutes.

Also, the staff will have fans fill out a health-screening questionnaire before entering the arena. If an attendee starts feeling sick during a game, isolation rooms will be available. However, the dogs will be the most significant line of defense in keeping the virus out of the games.

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Matthew Jafarian, the Heat’s executive vice president for business strategy, told ESPN,

“If you think about it, detection dogs are not new. You’ve seen them in airports, they’ve been used in mission-critical situations by the police and the military. We’ve used them at the arena for years to detect explosives.”

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Dogs have an uncanny ability to detect everything from bombs to diseases like cancer, diabetes, and even depression. So, it’s not surprising that they can be trained to sniff out viruses as well.

Miami Heat staff have been working on getting fans back in the American Airlines stadium for months. The dogs have been sniffing out the virus at a few games this season so far. However, only friends and family had been allowed to attend until recently. The first game fans could attend held last Thursday against the LA Clippers. Season ticket holders were able to start securing their seats that Monday.

How the covid dogs sniff out the virus

Before the games, fans will go through a designated screening area upon arrival. The covid dogs will then walk past each fan to sniff for the virus. If the dog keeps moving, that means the fan is cleared to enter. However, if the dog sits down, it has detected the virus, and the fan will be denied entry.

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When the pandemic started spreading around the world, experts started looking to dogs for their keen sense of smell. Many covid dogs have been employed to help stop further transmission of the virus. Dogs have up to 300 million smell receptors, and humans only have about 6 million. This means dogs can pick up on smells that are not detectable by us.

Due to their innate smell receptors, researchers around the world have started training dogs to help fight the virus. One group of researchers in Paris, France, shared their work on covid dogs last June. For the research, the team trained eight dogs to detect the virus in 198 sweat samples. Half of these came from people with the virus.

When researchers mixed the positive and negative samples, the dogs identified the virus 83% to 100% of the time.

Another study published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases analyzed dogs’ success rate at detecting the virus in saliva or tracheobronchial secretions. The research team was led by veterinary neurologist Holger Volk at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover in Germany. The researchers had eight covid dogs sniff saliva and tracheobronchial samples of seven people with covid, plus seven uninfected people. The results showed that the dogs detected 83% of positive cases and 96% of negative ones.

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