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Facts about Clostridium difficile Infection

What is C. Difficile?

C. difficile is a certain type of bacterium which commonly lives in the intestines of human beings and it is also sometimes referred to as clostridium difficile. This bacterium may sometimes cause a lot of damage since it can be associated with the development of certain life threatening medical conditions such as extreme inflammation and distention of the colon, inflammation of the large intestine, severe diarrhea and sepsis. For those who do not know, sepsis is a certain severe type of infection which spreads by means of the bloodstream inside the human body. C. difficile is often associated with previous antbiotic use in patients. This is mainly due to the fact that antibiotics are very efficient in getting rid of all the bad bacteria inside the human body, but since they cannot be selective they can also kill off the good bacteria and disturb their balance. Once this balance is disturbed, C. difficile tend to flourish inside the human intestines, so they trigger all the aforementioned medical problems. This harmful bacterium usually affects the elderly population and all those who spend significant amounts of time in healthcare institutions, nursing homes and hospitals. C. difficile is also known for commonly affecting all those who suffer from compromised immune systems. Healthy people usually do not get affected by C. difficile infection that easily. The same can be said for all those who are without antimicrobial exposure.

Statistical Data

The number of people affected by C. difficile in the United States is growing rapidly on a regular daily basis. This bacterium is actually the most common cause of all cases of diarrhea associated to the use of antibiotics or infectious healthcare. There are approximately 20 percent of hospitalized patients who suffer from diarrhea induced by antibiotics. In the last couple of years, the number of hospital discharges with C. difficile infections has more than doubled, according to some scientific researches. It is also very interesting to point out that the average length of the patients’ stay at hospitals due to C. difficile infections is almost three times higher than before. There are more than half a million cases of C. difficile infection in the United States each year, and out of those there are more than 28,000 cases which end in death. According to some other professional studies, the prevalence rate for C. difficile infection is more than 13 cases per 1,000 inpatients which is a terrifying fact since it stands for at least 13 times higher than all previous estimates. Over the recent years there is also a significant increase in the severity of the disease which now affects elderly, adults and children as well. The stay in healthcare facilities is now approximately 5 days longer than before. The costs for inpatient care have also increased significantly as they are now approximately 4,000 dollars per episode more than before. The annual costs for C. difficile infections in the United States are way above one billion dollars. Another big problem with C. difficile infections is the fact that recent years have brought certain strains of these types of infections which are much more antibiotic and virulent resistant. These strains are mainly characterized by an ability of producing significantly larger amounts of toxins than before. They are able to infect a completely healthy person and they are commonly associated with a large number of treatment failures, colectomies and deaths.

What Are the Symptoms of CDI?

C. difficile infection can easily be characterized by certain common types of symptoms such as abdominal cramping, abdominal tenderness, abdominal pain, nausea, loss of appetire, fever and watery diarrhea. In order to resolve the symptoms one needs to use oral types of antibiotics known as vancomycin and metronidazole. These medicaments are very efficient in killing the active form of the bacterium.  

How Is CDI Spread?

The C. difficile bacterium can be found in the feces and all other contaminated surfaces, materials and areas which came into contact with the contaminated feces. The infection occurs due to certain toxic products produced by the bacteria. This bacterium has two forms – the vegetative and the spore form. Spores can survive outside the human body for months and they can get into the host’s body simply by means of a touch. Oral ingestion of C. difficile spores leads to the development of infection mainly due to the fact that they are resistant to the acidity of the human stomach. Once they get there, the spores germinate into the vegetative form of the bacterium.

Risk Factors for CDI

There are numerous different types of risk factors which may contribute to the development of C. difficile infection but the most common ones include advanced age, hospitalization and exposure to various different types of antimicrobials. The antimicrobial classes which are commonly associated with the development of C. difficile infection include fluoroquinolones, clindamycin and cephalosporins.

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