GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Detecting dangerous bacteria can be difficult, but an unusual new helper is sniffing around Vidant Medical Center in Greenville to help patients.
A beagle named Harley is pretty special and possibly the only dog in the U.S. working to detect this kind of bacteria in hospitals.
Her owner, Keith Pittman, trained her to work with people, using treats to help her sniff out C. Diff, a bacteria common in hospital rooms that can cause patients, particularly the elderly, unpleasant symptoms, illness and sometimes death when it’s spread around on things like doorknobs or bed rails.
Dr. Paul Cook with the ECU Brody School of Medicine says, “Every hospital has C. Diff cases but our rates are about half of what the national average is. I think – is part of that because of Harley? I don’t know but I’d like to think so.”
Harley comes twice a week to sniff around the rooms and when she finds the C. Diff she sits down so Dr. Cook knows where to clean with bleach. Without her he’s not able to find it, and Dr. Cook says it’s not too bad to have an upbeat four-legged friend around the hospital to make you smile.
Harley was trained for eight months to develop this special talent and she’s now able to distinguish that scent out of 1,000 or more.
While there was another beagle known to detect C. Diff in the Netherlands, Harley is the only beagle they know of in the U.S. to have and use this talent today.