Clostridium difficile (C. diff)
Clostridium difficile or more commonly referred to as C. diff is a bacterium that can infect humans and other animals. According to the Center for Disease Control, C. diff infections occur in about half a million people each year in the United States. It is the most common cause of infectious healthcare associated diarrhea worldwide. C. diff symptoms range from mild diarrhea to life-threatening bowel disease. In some cases, it can lead to the removal of the colon and even death.
While C. diff infections occasionally cause problems in individuals with no known risk factors, there are some who are at greater risk for contracting it. These risk factors include:
- Staying in a health care facility (i.e., hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities)
- Frequent, recent, or long-term use of antibiotics
- Advanced age
- Weakened immune system
There are currently no approved vaccines or antibiotics to prevent C. diff infection.
Why is prevention needed?
- Over the last 10 years C. diff infection rates have increased 4-fold.
- C. diff spores are very resilient and easy to transmit
- C. diff spores are resistant to most routine cleaning measures and can survive on certain surfaces for months
- Transmission of C. diff is difficult to control once present in an environment