C. difficile-sniffing dog 'Angus' is ready for his hospital job
Published Tuesday, July 5, 2016 2:30PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 5, 2016 5:36PM EDT
A two-year-old English springer spaniel named Angus is ready to get to work at Vancouver General Hospital, where the dog will join the hospital's infection-fighting team.
Angus is the first dog in Canada who has been trained to detect C. difficile -- a superbug that attacks hospital patients whose immune systems have been weakened by antibiotics.
The bacterium is the most frequent cause of infectious diarrhea in Canadian hospitals and long-term care facilities, and it can be fatal in severe cases.
Angus' owner and trainer Teresa Zurberg became infected with C. difficile after being treated for a gash on her leg. She said she lost 20-pounds and spent a week in hospital.
"It was awful, I almost died," she said in a statement.
Zurberg’s experience with C. diff and her background as a certified trainer of bomb-detecting and drug-detecting dogs prompted her to look for a new partner – which she found in Angus.
Angus underwent training for a year-and-a-half before joining the hospital team. He has already been issued a hospital ID and he's expected to start work this summer.
Angus can find C. difficile in areas of the hospital that would otherwise go unnoticed to the naked eye. Once the bacterium is detected, the area is cleaned with a state-of-the-art UV light disinfecting robot that removes 99.9 per cent of the C. difficile spores.
Health Minister Terry Lake, meanwhile, welcomed Vancouver General Hospital’s latest hire.
“We strive to continue to find ways to provide better care, and sometimes the answer is not more technology, but instead, man’s best friend,” Terry said.