Photo caption: Auburn University’s Canine Performance Sciences Program is training dogs such as this one to detect explosives, narcotics and other targets of interest.

Natural disease outbreaks caused by pathogens are the leading cause of death worldwide in plants, animals and humans. In addition, bioterrorism is a serious threat to world populations and food sources. Scientists have been investigating technologies that aid in early detection of pathogens to prevent the spread of natural disease outbreak and bioterrorism activities, and—surprisingly—one of these “technologies” is dogs. Recent advancements in analytical chemistry demonstrate that pathogen infections produce unique volatile organic profiles or odors, called “VOCs” for short. And dogs, with their extraordinary sense of smell, are able to detect these VOCs. Learn more in this article from our partner, the Homeland Defense Intelligence Analysis Center (HDIAC).