Clostridium Difficile Infections Spreading Beyond Hospitals

Clostridium Difficile Infections Spreading Beyond Hospitals

"The CDC estimated that nearly 350,000 C. diff infections occurred outside of hospitals in 2011, and found that 46 percent were fully community-acquired and 36 percent had no antibiotic exposure. And just last year, researchers in California found that 1 in 10 emergency room patients with diarrhea tested positive for C. diff, and that 40 percent had no risk factors at all."
(Dalton, 2018)

Clostridium Difficile, known as c. diff, is a bacteria that has gained a reputation in recent years as a resilient, recurring source of infection. The infection is commonly found in geriatric nursing homes, but has been found in pediatric facilities as well. The bacteria is easily spread, and carriers may not even be sick. Objects in the patients room may be moved from room to room throughout a hospital, causing widespread infections. Hospitals treat patients with c. diff infections in isolation to ensure the bacteria doesn't spread. However, with the spread of the bacteria beyond the hospital, many people will be unprepared to deal with a c. diff infection.

A recent article published on the National Public Radio (NPR) website shines some light on this growing problem. In the article, Dr. Dalton describes the bacteria, and identifies potential causes for the spread. The article covers some of the history of the discovery and early infections. There are also links to useful resources to better understand the implications of this growing problem. For instance, c. diff is known to thrive after the use of antibiotics, making another case for not over-prescribing antibiotics. Infected objects must be cleaned with bleach, and there are a number of treatments with varying levels of efficacy in use.

I co-authored a study with physicians in a pediatric acute rehabilitation hospital who have had some success in eradicating c. diff from infected patients in their facility. Once it is published, the paper will be introduced here at the CHNR site. If anyone has had any successes in this area, or would like to collaborate on future studies, feel free to contact me.

C. diff is challenging enough in a healthcare setting. It will be important for the general public to be aware as the rate of infection increases to the general population.


References

Dalton, C. (2018). Dangerous infection tied to hospitals now becoming common outside them. NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/11/25/657861409/dangerous-infection-tied-to-hospitals-now-becoming-common-outside-them