Move over MRSA, C.diff is Here

Posted on September 17, 2008  Comments (4)

Clostridium difficile (C.diff), a bacteria, is increasingly posing health risk. Rising Foe Defies Hospitals’ War On ‘Superbugs’

Even as hospitals begin to get control of other drug-resistant infections such as MRSA, a form of staph, rates of C. diff are rising sharply, and a recent, more virulent strain of the bug is causing more severe complications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are 500,000 cases of C. diff infection annually in the U.S., contributing to between 15,000 and 30,000 deaths. That’s up from roughly 150,000 cases in 2001.

Many patients get C. diff infections as an unintended consequence of taking antibiotics for other illnesses. That’s because bacteria normally found in a person’s intestines help keep C. diff under control, allowing the bug to live in the gut without necessarily causing illness. But when a person takes antibiotics, both bad and good bacteria are suppressed, allowing drug-resistant C. diff to grow out of control.

Only 3% to 5% of healthy, non-hospitalized adults carry C. diff in their gut, but that rate is much higher in hospitals and nursing homes, where carriers can spread the bacteria to others. Studies at several hospitals in recent years have shown that 20% or more of inpatients were colonized with C. diff, and a 2007 study of 73 long-term-care residents showed 55% were positive for C. diff. Even though the majority had no symptoms of disease, spores on the skin of asymptomatic patients were easily transferred to the investigators’ hands.

Related: C.diff deaths double in two yearsKilling Germs May Be Hazardous to Your HealthBacteria Survive On All Antibiotic DietArticles on the Overuse of AntibioticsGood GermsClay Versus MRSA Superbug

4 Responses to “Move over MRSA, C.diff is Here”

  1. Dr J Bateman
    September 19th, 2008 @ 3:38 am

    Recent figures released yesterday by the Department of Health suggest that the UK is winning its war against MRSA with cases of serious MRSA infection falling by 56%.

    This is a real step forward. From a clinician treating patients I think its important that there is awareness that it is often the most seriously ill patients who succumb to such infections. In the example of MRSA: colonization of the skin is “harmless” it is the blood borne spread of the bacteria (septicemia) which carries a high mortality (>1 in 3).

    My other point would be in terms of route of spread: “C diff” is a spore forming organism and its these spores that can be very difficult to kill and eradicate. For example, washing with an alcohol rub will not necessarily kill these bacteria.

    Im heavily involved in the education of Junior doctors now: fortunately as examiners and educators the value of infection control measures is now being given (in terms of exams and assessments) the weight that it deserves in a cluttered medical curriculum.

  2. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Yogurts Used to Combat Superbugs
    November 6th, 2008 @ 9:02 pm

    [...] at Addenbrooke’s have said evidence suggested the yoghurt might cut the risk of contracting C.diff. Caroline Heyes, dietetic services manager at Addenbrooke’s hospital, said: “Probiotic [...]

  3. Anonymous
    April 22nd, 2009 @ 9:44 pm

    I think its important that there is awareness that it is often the most seriously ill patients who succumb to such infections. “C diff” is a spore forming organism and its these spores that can be very difficult to kill and eradicate

  4. CDC Again Stresses Urgent Need to Adjust Practices or Pay a Steep Price » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    March 8th, 2013 @ 7:30 am

    [...] to modify prescriptions, if needed. Antibiotic overuse contributes to the growing problems of Clostridium difficile (c-diff) infection and antibiotic resistance in healthcare facilities. Studies indicate that nearly 50% of [...]

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