A specially trained dog has been enlisted to help prevent the spread of the superbug Clostridium difficile, thanks to the efforts of a C. difficile victim and her infection control specialist husband.
Angus, an English springer spaniel, will soon be bearing his hospital-issued ID in the halls of Vancouver (British Columbia) General Hospital as his nose sniffs nooks and crannies for evidence of the tenacious bacteria.
The lovable canine can smell toxins found in C. difficile as a result of training by owner Teresa Zurberg, who had become infected with the bacterium after treatment for a cut on her leg. She lost 20 pounds and spent a week in the hospital. “It was awful; I almost died,” said Zurberg, in a news release from the hospital’s affiliate, Vancouver Coastal Health.
After recovering, Zurberg, a trainer of bomb- and drug-detecting dogs, took on the task of finding a dog that could perform the task of detecting the C. difficile infection. She found one in Montana. Angus recently was OK’d to apply his skills by Vancouver Coastal, where her husband Markus is a quality and patient safety coordinator.
“We strive to continue to find ways to provide better care, and sometimes the answer is not more technology, but instead, man’s best friend,” said the Honourable Terry Lake, health minister of British Columbia, in the release.