Dr Dog: How beagle Cliff can sniff C. Diff

He is the hound of the hospital ward. Cliff, a two year old beagle with trademark floppy ears, has been trained to sniff out patients infected with a superbug and could potentially save hundreds of lives.

Instead of tracking hares, rabbits and other small game, Cliff puts his nostrils to work on the wards chasing down patients suffering from Clostridium Difficile, the hospital infection that can spread rapidly among the elderly causing lethal outbreaks.
Existing laboratory tests to diagnose the condition are expensive and slow and can delay the start of treatment by up to a week. Using a dog with a sensitive nose to patrol the wards and pick out infected patients is fast, efficient - and popular.
As a scent hound the Beagle has few equals – it can find a mouse in a one acre field in less than a minute. In tests, Cliff correctly identified 25 out of 30 patients with C Difficile – an 83 per cent success rate – and 265 out of 270 negative controls, after just two months training. Unlike the lab technicians, he could screen a complete hospital ward in less than 10 minutes, strolling past each patient’s bed until he came to one with an infected occupant. Then he promptly sat down.

Source  - Independent