Two scent detection trainees having fun with a stick. Supplied by Vancouver Coastal Health.
Dogs and puppies are renowned for their keen sense of smell, but Vancouver Coastal Health is training C. difficile scent detection dogs.
C. difficile attacks people with compromised immune systems due to the use of antibiotics and Angus and Dodger are North America’s top C. difficile detection dogs.
Teresa Zurberg served in the Canadian military and worked as a handler for bomb-sniffing dogs and now trains dogs to sniff out C. difficile.
Zurberg said Angus has been successful in finding patients in hospitals that suffer from this condition.
“We use Angus to do that for us and he’s been able to point out reservoirs of C. difficile that we’ve never even thought about,” said Zurberg. “If he finds one, we’re able to get our environmental services staff and our cleaning staff and our robots to take care of those areas and get them cleaned up.”
C. difficile causes watery diarrhea 10 to 15 times a day, rapid heart rate, blood in the stool, and fever.
These scent detection dogs are the only two in North America that are certified to sniff out C. difficile, they’ve searched hundreds of hospital areas for C. difficile, along with 30 Canadian healthcare facilities to share their expertise.
Zurberg said it takes a special dog to do this work.
“You really need to get the right dog, all dogs sniff and like to sniff, but not all dogs can work in the environment we work in,” said Zurberg. “Choosing the right dog is a big part of it and so is having a professional K9 handler who works with the dog.”
You can become infected with C. difficile if you take a lot of antibiotics or have had oral-fecal contact and are immune-compromised.
There are a few puppies in training, including one that still doesn’t have a name and it’s down to four choices; Olaf, Clouseau, Finn, or Magnum.
You have until November 3 to vote.
This scent detection dog is in training and needs a name.