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Study Shows Canines Can Detect Hospital Acquired Infections

Study Shows Canines Can Detect Hospital Acquired Infections
  • Fiona Collins
  • Feb 1, 2013

Dogs are known as ‘Man’s Best Friend’, although really they are ‘Everyone’s Best Friend’. Many of us are dog lovers, and appreciate the companionship they give us. As we already know, they can do much – including helping people with physical difficulties, guarding and finding cadavers after a natural disaster. Dogs’ olfactory skills have been helpful in the detection of illegal drugs, explosives, cancers, the onset of epilepsy events, and even in the detection of bed bugs. A new skill has also surfaced with a recent report on Medline Plus citing that dogs have the ability to sniff out Clostridium dificile, which has a specific odor and is a contributor to hospital-acquired infections. C. dificile can exist on surfaces for several months under conditions favoring its persistence, and the Centers for Disease Control reports that this microorganism is responsible for diarrhea that is linked to 14,000 deaths in the United States each year. In fact, a trained beagle was able to sniff C. dificile out in the air around patients and by smelling stool samples. Cliff, a beagle in The Netherlands, was able to detect this microorganism in over 4 out of 5 cases. Since this infection can be transmitted from one patient to another, it’s interesting. The ability to detect Clostridium dificile early would enable early intervention to help patients.  Whether or not infections are detected early, thorough adherence to infection control guidelines prevents the direct and indirect transmission of pathogenic and potentially pathogenic microorganisms. 

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