The British Journal of Medicine has published a paper about a beagle sniffing out cases of clostridium difficile (c diff) colitis in hospitals. C diff is a certifiable plague in this era of antibiotic overuse. I have taken out my fair share of colons in toxic patients. Until recently, the diagnosis of c diff required a stool sample (sometimes multiple) that could sometimes take several days for results to post. This dog, Cliff, in the paper was able to correctly identify the bug in 25/30 patients with confirmed infection. Furthermore, he accurately indicated absence of infection in 265/270 stool samples.
I suppose this is a nice little study. It's the end of the year, the Holiday season. We all like mood-elevating stories about cute animals doing amazing things. Surprising that it would find its way into the esteemed BMJ, however.
Anyway, the whole thing is sort of moot. Newer PCR testing techniques for c diff have shortened diagnosis turnover time to around an hour. It is lamentable that there is little likelihood that hospitals will commandeer packs of hounds to make olfactory rounds on inpatient toilets. Alas.