Vancouver General is going to the dogs in C. difficile pilot project

WATCH: VGH has launched a pilot program to see if a dog can sniff out a potentially-deadly bacteria in hospitals. Elaine Yong reports.

Dr. Elizabeth Bryce, Director of Infection Control at Vancouver Coastal Health, is somewhat amused at the sight of a dog roaming the halls of Vancouver General Hospital.

But she also sees the potential in the pilot project taking place as Angus sniffs for C. difficile.

“There’s a lot of opportunity to use our wonderful human companions to make the environment a safer place to everyone.”

Fact file: What is C. difficile?

Clostridium difficile is the most frequent cause of infectious diarrhea in hospitals, mostly in patients who are on antibiotics or immune compromised. Angus has learned how to detect C. difficile in just ten months, faster than her trainer, Teresa Zurberg, expected.

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WATCH: Global Edmonton’s “Ask the doctor” segment on C. difficile

“He’s above and beyond every I expected of him,” she said, adding that it takes around two minutes for Angus to scour a room.

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“I can do a very large area in a very quick amount of time.”

Vancouver General Hospital has undergone a vigorous campaign to try and control C. difficile. While it has been successful at reducing the infection rate by 50 per cent using strict cleaning protocols and a superbug-killing robot that uses UV light, there is still room for improvement.

Bryce sees the possibility of future uses for canines in the hospital.

“There are many other things that this dogs or others could potentially be trained for.”

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Zurberg, who usually trains her dogs for finding drugs or bombs, certainly agrees.

“If it’s got a smell, you can train a dog to find it.”

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