Study shows dogs can smell clostridium difficile infection

Dogs may soon become a doctor’s best friend when it comes to detecting clostridium difficile, which is traditionally costly and time-consuming to diagnose.

According to a report published in BMJ, researchers conducted a study to discover whether dogs are capable of smelling clostridium difficile infections, similar to how dogs can detect certain types of cancer. Their results confirmed that in addition to detecting the infectious agent in stool samples, dogs can even detect infection by smelling the air surrounding sick patients.

For the study, researchers trained a 2-year-old beagle to sit or lie down if he detected the scent of clostridium difficile infection. Once the dog’s nose was tuned in to the scent of clostridium difficile, researchers tested the dog’s accuracy by exposing him to 50 infected stool samples and 50 non-infected samples. The dog was 100 percent accurate when identifying the positive samples, and 94 percent accurate with the negative samples, researchers said.

Researchers later moved the study into the field by taking the dog to two hospital wards in Amsterdam, where he was 98 percent accurate with negative patients and 83 percent accurate with positive patients.

Researchers noted that while current testing methods can take at least one or two days, dogs can screen patients in a hospital ward for infection in under 10 minutes.

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