With cases of Covid-19 on the rise again in Hawaii, a Big Island school is hoping to permanently deploy a pair of four-footed detectives to help sniff out the virus in students and staff. And maybe invasive species and tree-killing fungus as well.
Volcano School of Arts and Sciences recently completed an 8-week pilot project with a female Belgian Malinois named Cobra. The 8-year-old dog is trained to detect a variety of scents from fungal pathogens to coronavirus.
Cobra’s highly sensitive sense of smell is not unusual. Dogs have over 300 million scent receptors in their nasal cavities compared to some 5 million in humans. Dogs with specialized training are commonly used for sniffing out drugs, cadavers, explosives, avalanche victims and people buried under earthquake rubble.