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Beagle Saves Human Lives By Sniffing Out Fatal Pathogen

Beagle Saves Human Lives By Sniffing Out Fatal Pathogen

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.

One untrained dog detected his person’s aggressive breast cancer long before she realized she had it. Another woman’s untrained dog alerted her that one of her moles was malignant.

There are also tales of untrained cats sniffing out cancer. A kitten found a breast tumor before doctors did and before it metastasized.

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.

Related Stories:

Dogs Can Sniff Out Lung Cancer in Humans

Just Another Day for the Canine Indiana Jones

Norm’s Story — From Rescue to Service Dog


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Photo credit: Valueline

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8:41AM PDT on May 2, 2013

Those little ones are amazing!!

3:18AM PDT on May 2, 2013


11:34AM PST on Mar 1, 2013

thank you for sharing...this is very touching...take care

7:34PM PST on Feb 28, 2013

It's a wonderful story to be shared. It's so amazing what this amazing creatures can do. I had a beagle. Sadly he passed away several years ago. He was my best friend. He was the most gentlest, funniest, and intelligent creature. It still pains me to talk about him. I don't think one ever truly gets over loosing someone close. I mention this because my Gizmo gave his life to save mine. There are a lot of truly amazing creatures out there but to me he was one-of-a-kind

1:13PM PST on Feb 28, 2013

it seems like the US Medical industry could spend a little more of their research dollars on training animals to detect these illnesses.

2:19PM PST on Feb 26, 2013


8:08PM PST on Feb 23, 2013


3:22PM PST on Feb 20, 2013


3:28PM PST on Feb 19, 2013

What a great story! I feel like a bit more organization would help with the children's ward (i.e. work with a vest on then, when finished, have play time with the kids).

7:40PM PST on Feb 18, 2013


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