UHNBC has a special visitor for a few days.

Angus, an English Springer Spaniel, is in town to help make sure patients at the hospital aren’t contracting a super bug called Clostridium difficile, or C. diff.

The bug is the most common cause of acute diarrhea in hospitals and long-term care facilities in North America and over 60% of C. diff cases are acquired within healthcare facilities.

Reducing environmental contamination plays a key role in preventing the spread of infection to immuno-compromised patients and healthcare workers, and that’s where Angus comes in.

Teresa Zurberg, Canine Detection Unit for Vancouver Coastal Health said the dog looks at the common areas like shared bathrooms and lounges in the hospital to find where the contamination has been carried to.

A team at Vancouver General Hospital has developed a program that trains dogs to detect C. diff with high accuracy. Since its inception in 2016, the canine detection teams have successfully searched hundreds of hospital areas.

“They’re trained the same as we train bomb dogs or drug dogs. Overall, bomb dogs don’t care about bombs, drug dogs don’t care about drugs and Angus doesn’t care about C. diff,” said Zurberg.

“But he has learnt that finding the C.diff odour will get him what he really wants, which is either the treats in my pocket or the tug toy in my back pocket, which he would go through fire to get. It’s a game of association for the dogs.”

Zurberg and Angus visited Fraser, Interior and Coastal Health before coming up North and they’ll be here for just two more days.

If you’d like to learn more about Angus, you can find his Facebook page here.