Trained Dog Can Detect C. difficile

Trained Dog Can Detect C. difficile

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The nose knows! A dog in British Columbia, Canada has been trained to detect Clostridium difficile.

C. difficile is a Gram-positive, anaerobic bacterium found in the gastrointestinal tract. Most people with C. difficile colonization are asymptomatic, but antibiotic therapy can disrupt the balance of gut flora and lead to C. difficile infection. Patients with a C. difficile infection experience mild to severe diarrhea and shed the bacteria in their feces.

C. difficile is particularly contagious because it sheds as spores, which are difficult to kill with disinfectants and can live on surfaces for extended periods of time. Because the spores stick around in hospital rooms long after patients are treated and discharged, C. difficile is one of the most common nosocomial infections.

Hospitals strive to maintain sterile environments, but microscopic spores can survive in nooks and crannies that are difficult to clean. Although there is technology able to detect C. difficile spores, the process is cost-prohibitive and time-consuming. That’s where the dogs come in.

C. difficile has a very particular odor, and a springer spaniel named Angus has been trained to sniff it out just as bomb dogs can identify explosives. Angus can detect the bacteria from several feet away and indicate the source to his trainer, who then provides a treat.

TransPharm has validated a preclinical gastrointestinal model of C. difficile infection in mice. Learn more or contact us today for a professional consultation and free, no-obligation quote.


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