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Food & Health : Biological Agents Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Diarrhea bacteria on the rise in U.S. hospitals
By Ben Wasserman
Nov 12, 2008 - 11:37:57 AM

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It's more likely now than ever that you may get bacteria from hospitals that cause a common and sometimes deadly diarrhea, according to a new study.


The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology reported that as many as 13 out of every 1000 hospital patients get infected with Clostridium difficile.


Clostridium difficile is a bacterium that causes diarrhea and more serious intestinal conditions such as colitis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states on its website.


The finding indicated that the rate had increase by 20 times meaning right now as many 7,000 patients suffer the infection on any given day, Reuters reported.


C. dificile is more dangerous to older people who are frail and at higher risk of serious infections of the bacteria.


Below IS some information about the bacteria cited from the CDC.



Questions and Answers



What is Clostridium difficile (C. difficile)?


Clostridium difficile [klo-STRID-ee-um dif-uh-SEEL] is a bacterium that causes diarrhea and more serious intestinal conditions such as colitis.


What are C. difficile diseases?


They are diseases that result from C. difficile infections such as Colitis, more serious instestinal conditions, sepsis, and rarely death.


What are the symptoms of C. difficile disease?


Symptoms include:


    * watery diarrhea (at least three bowel movements per day for two or more days)

    * fever

    * loss of appetite

    * nausea

    * abdominal pain/tenderness


How is C. difficile disease treated?


C. difficile is generally treated for 10 days with antibiotics prescribed by your healthcare provider. The drugs are effective and appear to have few side-effects.


How do people get C. difficile disease?


People in good health usually don’t get C. difficile disease. 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 other patients or contaminate surfaces through hand contact.


What should I do to prevent the spread of C. difficile to others?


If you are infected you can spread the disease to others. However, only people that are hospitalized or on antibiotics are likely to become ill. For safety precautions you may do the following to reduce the chance of spread to others:


    * wash hands with soap and water, especially after using the restroom and before eating;

    * clean surfaces in bathrooms, kitchens and other areas on a regular basis with household detergent/disinfectants.


What should I do if I think I have C. difficile disease?


See your healthcare provider.

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