Doctors are training dogs to detect deadly bacteria.
People have often used dog’s heightened sense of smell for things like hunting and law enforcement.
Now, Dutch doctors have trained a beagle to sense Clostridium difficile, a bacteria that can cause 'severe, hard-to-treat diarrhea and sometimes life-threatening colitis."
The bacteria has reportedly been responsible for 14 thousand deaths every year in the U.S.
The dog was able to pick up on the presence of the bacteria with remarkable accuracy, identifying 25 out of 30 people who had an infection, and 265 out of 270 people that did not.
Dogs have been used experimentally in medicinal diagnosis before, for example when they were trained to detect lung or colon cancer by smelling a patient’s breath.
Researchers in Germany found that the dogs they used were able to identify 71 out of 100 lung cancer patients, and 93 percent of cancer free subjects. The results are actually better than the system that doctors currently use, which involves an imaging test.
Lead author of the study Thorsten Walles from the Schillerhoehe Hospital said: “This is a big step forward in the diagnosis of lung cancer, but we still need to precisely identify the compounds observed in the exhaled breath of patients.”