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Dogs Detect Diarrhea Causing Bacteria

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Cliff the beagle sniffs out diarrhea causing bacteria…

Researchers at the Diarrhea Oracle of VU University Medical Centre have developed a novel way of diagnosing if a patient is infected with disease.
The new method replaces days of analyzing stool samples in the lab, for something we all love, man’s best friend.

The UV researchers have been training dogs like Cliff the beagle, to sniff out disease causing bacteria such as Clostridium difficile (C.Diff), a highly infectious strain known for causing diarrhea.

In crowed living spaces such as hospitals, bacteria like C.Diff can spread like wildfire and traditional methods of testing typically take 3 days – far to long to diagnose carriers and prevent further infection.

cliff beagle sniffs out diarrhea causing bacteria

Cliff The Beagle Sniffs Out Diarrhoea Causing Bacteria

Image Credit: BMJ, 2012.

Scientist already knew that humans can smell C.Diff if the scent is extremely strong, this led them to wonder if animals with their acute sense of smell maybe able to detect smaller traces of the bacteria.

Dogs have a nose that’s 300 percent more sensitive than humans. This precision sense of smell allows the beagle to make out the scent of nasty bacteria such as C.diff, even amongst the many smells we give off – body odor, sweat, the aroma from our clothing, last meal, drink or cigarette.

To train the dogs the researchers devised a strict training regime in which the pups were made to sniff out bacteria wielding samples hidden around the room. After training the team found that the dogs could sniff out C.Diff with a 90 percent accuracy rate.

In fact, to detect the bacteria, the dogs do not even need to smell a sample, they can tell just by standing by the patients bed, which makes diagnosis even easier.

More researcher needs to be done before the technique could be used in hospital, and there’s always the concern that bringing dogs in to environments that are suppose to be sterile could e counter intuitive in fighting disease. Nevertheless the technique appears to offer a more effective solution to detecting disease than current methods.


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