Anyway, this is ostensibly an infection prevention blog, so I better get back on topic. In the annual Christmas issue of the BMJ, investigators from the Netherlands have reported a novel method for speeding up the diagnosis of Clostridium difficile infection. The name of their novel method? Cliff. Just as I expected, they call or email the CDC and ask Cliff McDonald what he thinks! NO? What?
It turns out that they've trained a beagle named Cliff to diagnosis C. difficile by smell (thank goodness it's not taste). Anyone who has done an ID fellowship or even a medical internship gets pretty good at recognizing the unique small of C. diff, so we know this could work. It turns out to work pretty well. Cliff's nose detected C. difficile positive clinical samples with a sensitivity of 83% and a specificity of 98%. Not too shaggy.
Addendum: A 2007 CID study reported self-selected nurses had a sensitivity of 55% and specificity of 83% in diagnosing C. diff, while an earlier study reported that nurses had a sensitivity and specificity of 84% and 77% for predicting C. diff using factors that included odor. I would like to see Cliff dual it out with these nurses in a future trial. Daniel Uslan suggested Cliff vs "Sniff": an RCT.