Angus was recently on the hunt for signs of an infectious bacteria in a number of wards at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital. Photo courtesy Vancouver Coastal Health

Doggone good germ detective visits Trail hospital

Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital was one of seven IH facilities Angus has checked for C.diff

Interior Health has come up with a doggone good way to hunt down a germ called Clostridium Difficile, which can cause life-threatening gastrointestinal illness.

Angus, an adorable springer spaniel, put his nose to the grindstone last month when he visited Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH) to sniff out the presence of the Clostridium Difficile (C.difficile) bacteria in several wards.

Angus is one of the few dogs in the world specially trained to hunt out this germ, which most commonly affects older adults in hospitals or in long-term care facilities. C.difficile infection typically occurs after use of antibiotics, and causes symptoms that range from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon.

Angus has been working with Interior Health’s Infection Prevention and Control team to identify additional control measures and prevention strategies at various sites including KBRH, which was the seventh Interior Health site he has toured.

“There are no outbreaks of C. difficile in any of our Interior Health facilities,” Val Wood, Director of Infection Prevention and Control, told the Trail Times. “The purpose of the Angus site visits is to evaluate what we cannot detect in the environment and to increase awareness and understanding among professionals and the public.”

He visited the KBRH Emergency Department, patient registration, surgical and intensive care wings, the third floor medical unit, and part of the fourth floor and oncology unit.

If Angus detects C.diff spores, he alerts his handler who records the location, item and any other details about the alert.

Angus regularly works out of Vancouver General Hospital, but thanks to a unique partnership, the dog and his handler have made several trips to Interior Health sites this year.

Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is a bacterium that can live in the bowel without causing harm. For healthy people, C. difficile does not often pose a health risk. However, for people taking antibiotics or with weakened immune systems, such as patients who are elderly or undergoing chemotherapy, the normal balance of healthy bacteria in the digestive system may be upset. This imbalance allows C. difficile to grow to unusually high levels and produce toxins that can damage the bowel and cause diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramping, dehydration, and even death.

The bacteria and their spores are shed in feces. People can acquire the bacteria if they touch items or surfaces like toilets, commodes and bathing tubs, that are contaminated with feces, and then touch their mouth or mucous membranes without washing their hands thoroughly.

C. difficile can live for long periods on surfaces and can spread very easily. With the help of canine scent detection health facilities can find hidden reservoirs such as carts, door handles, elevator buttons, shared keyboards.

The risk of acquiring the bug can be reduced by hand washing with soap and water.

Related story here: KBRH ready to undergo $19-million renovation

Related story here: Infections force KBRH to hold certain surgeries

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Castlegar council develops policy for question period

Questions must pertain to current agenda items and issues or items of interest to the general public

SD20 board welcomes new trustee as budget process begins

New funding funneled to Castlegar bus route, band instrument replacement and library IT equipment.

Missing Slocan City man found dead

Douglas Morrison went missing in mid-January

Stroke survivors lean on each other in Nelson

‘I’ve learned more about strokes from being in the group than I did from anyone else’

COLUMN: Screening will help take Sinixt people (and their drum) to Ottawa

‘Older Than The Crown’ plays Thursday at the Capitol Theatre

Blair says RCMP have met Wet’suwet’en conditions, calls for end to blockades

The Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary chiefs oppose the Coastal GasLink project

Health officials confirm sixth COVID-19 case in B.C.

Woman remains in isolation as Fraser Health officials investigate

Study says flu vaccine protected most people during unusual influenza season

Test-negative method was pioneered by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2004

Saskatchewan and B.C. reach championship round at Scotties

British Columbia’s Corryn Brown locked up the last berth in Pool B

B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court

In November, Nova Scotia’s mental-health court program marked 10 years of existence

COLUMN: Not an expert on First Nations government structures? Then maybe you should calm down

Consider your knowledge about First Nations governance structures before getting really, really mad

Meet the Wet’suwet’en who want the Coastal GasLink pipeline

Supporters of the pipeline are upset only one side is being heard nationwide

One dead in multi-vehicle collision involving logging truck on northern B.C. highway

DriveBC says highway expected to remain closed until 8 p.m.

B.C. teacher gets 15-year ban after lying about having sex with just-graduated student

Teacher had been dishonest with the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation

Most Read