Dec 16

Dog sniffs out superbug (Telegraph, Dec 14, 2012):

A dog trained to sniff out patients with the ‘superbug’ C.difficile can clear entire hospital ward in matter of minutes with 80 per cent success rate, claim experts.

The dog, a beagle named Cliff, can sniff out the potentially deadly infection on samples taken from patients and even just from walking around the ward sniffing the air, according to a report published online in the British Medical Journal.

Dogs have been trained to sniff out a variety of diseases, warn epileptics of impending fits and can be trained to assist disabled people, but this is thought to be the first time one has been found to able to detect Clostridium difficile.

C. difficile infection most commonly occurs in older people who have recently had a course of antibiotics in hospital, but it can also start in the community, especially in care homes. Symptoms can range from mild diarrhoea to a life-threatening inflammation of the bowel and the elderly are most at risk.

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Dec 12

Global epidemic of C. difficile that killed thousands were caused by two separate strains

Overuse of hospital antibiotics led to deadly superbug outbreak (Independent, Dec 9, 2012):

The widespread use of antibiotics in hospitals triggered the emergence of two resistant strains of the Clostridium superbug that has killed thousands of people worldwide over the past two decades, a study has shown.

A genetic analysis of about 300 samples of Clostridium difficile bacteria collected from around the world found that the global outbreaks were in fact caused by two different strains that had independently acquired resistance to an antibiotic widely used in hospitals.

Scientists traced the evolutionary trees of each strain of C. diff and found that both originated within a couple of years of each other, one in a hospital in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and the other in Montreal, Canada.

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