How do you battle a treatment-resistant pathogen that kills 14,000 Americans a year?
With Cliff, the 2-year-old beagle, of course.
Clostridium difficile, a bacteria, causes severe diarrhea and colitis. It spreads quickly in hospitals, faster than hospital personnel can find and eradicate its source. Doctors have two tests for it and theoretically could use the tests to identify sick patients and prevent them from infecting others, but both have drawbacks. One of them takes days to yield a result, leaving plenty of time for the bacteria to spread. The other is expensive and not available at every hospital, Time reports.
Enter Cliff, a Dutch dog who provides instantaneous results for free. After two months of training, he graduated with stellar accuracy rates. He is a beagle, after all — a breed famous for their superior sense of smell, according to The Dogington Post. Dogs’ ”sense of smell is generally 10,000-100,000 times superior to that of humans.”
Cliff has only one disadvantage: he proved nearly useless in the pediatric ward, as the children swarming him were distracting and far more fun than working.
Cliff isn’t the first dog to use his schnoz as an effective early-diagnosis system. It has been proven that dogs can smell cancer on people’s breath, and can detect it before medical tests can, according to Global Animal. The same website reports that dogs can distinguish polyps from melanomas, which colonoscopies can’t.
Dogs and cats have many other health benefits for humans. WebMD reports that pets can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, relieve depression, strengthen immune systems, and lower the risk of dying from cardiac disease. Cats prevent strokes and asthma.
Yet another reason to spoil your companion animals: they may save your life.
Photo credit: Valueline