Home Health & Hospice

Q: What exactly is Clostridium difficile?

Homecare Insider, June 17, 2013

Q: What exactly is Clostridium difficile?

A: Clostridium difficile (commonly referred to as C.diff) is a bacterium that causes inflammation of the colon, known as colitis.

People who have other illnesses or conditions requiring prolonged use of antibiotics, and the elderly, are at greater risk of acquiring this disease. The bacteria are found in the feces. People can become infected if they touch items or surfaces that are contaminated with feces and then touch their mouth or mucous membranes. Healthcare workers can spread the bacteria to patients or contaminate surfaces through hand contact.

Symptoms include:
  • Watery diarrhea (at least three bowel movements per day for two or more days)
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain/tenderness

Clostridium difficile is shed in feces. Any surface, device, or material (e.g., toilets, bathing tubs, and electronic rectal thermometers) that becomes contaminated with feces may serve as a reservoir for the Clostridium difficile spores. Clostridium difficile spores are transferred to patients mainly via the hands of healthcare personnel who have touched a contaminated surface or item. Clostridium difficile can live for long periods on surfaces.

In about one in four patients, Clostridium difficile infection will resolve within 2-3 days of discontinuing the antibiotic to which the patient was previously exposed. Clostridium difficile is generally treated for 10 days with antibiotics.

Source: CDC.gov

 

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