Detection dog to sniff out C. difficile in Vancouver hospital
A Vancouver hospital is targeting C. difficile infections by deploying a detection dog to sniff out the superbug that's notorious for spreading in health facilities.
Two-year-old Angus is trained to find the bacterium that attacks people with weakened immune systems and is the most common cause of infectious diarrhea in hospitals.
The English springer spaniel can identify C. difficile in areas of the hospital that might otherwise go unnoticed, allowing staff to send a robot to clean up the bacterium's spores with disinfectant.
The dog's owner, Teresa Zurberg, who is a certified trainer of bomb and drug-detecting dogs, came up with the idea with her husband after she nearly died from an infection three years ago.
She says it's believed Angus is the only active sniffing dog that detects C. difficile in the world.
Dr. Elizabeth Bryce, the medical director for infection control with Vancouver Coastal Health, says hospitals in the region treat about 700 cases of C. difficile each year, with about 30 per cent originating outside hospitals.