What is Clostridium difficile?  It is better known as C-difficile or C-diff.  You may have heard of this illness here lately on the news.  However, this is not a new illness.  C-difficile has been around for decades affecting those patients in long term hospital settings.  According to 2010 statistics C-diff has increased in frequency most prevalent in hospital patients whose average hospital stay was long term. Because C-diff spores are shed in stool, these spores can live in the environment and on surfaces for months.  In hospitals these patients are to be confined to a private room and placed on Contact Isolation precautions.  However, recent news reports of C-diff has occurred outside of the hospital or after discharge with the risk of spreading the infection to caretakers and communities.

Diagnosis of C-difficile

  1. C-difficile has to be diagnosed by proper collection of stool sample. After the laboratory receives the specimen, evaluation of stool sample through specificity, special chemical agents, toxigenic culture, and other microbiological screening can determine presence of C-difficile. The time it takes to make a final diagnosis can take a few days as it is slow to culture.

Signs and Symptoms of C-difficile are:

  • Diarrhea may be with a mucus or blood in the stool occurring 3 or more times a day for 2 or more days. Severe cases will have watery diarrhea 10 – 15 times a day.
  • Fever
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss

Complications are:

  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Sepsis
  • General system inflammatory response
  • Kidney, gastrointestinal disease
  • Increase incidence of fatality especially in elderly.

If any of the above signs and symptoms apply to you or your love one, especially if you are on antibiotics, please contact your licensed healthcare provider or physician as soon as possible.

Appropriate Treatment for C-Difficile

Mild to moderate treatment includes stopping antibiotics being given for other purposed if possible.  Otherwise, treatment usually begins with Metronidazole or Vancomycin for mild-to-moderate infection for the recommended duration of time prescribed by physician.

Recently, research has found new variants and strains which can make infection difficult to treat or longer use of treatment. What makes this infectious bacterial nuance difficult to treat is that C-diff is sticky.   Therefore, it is imperative that healthcare workers as well as those in community use preventative measures listed below:

  1. Use strict hand hygiene initiatives such as good hand washing with warm water and antimicrobial/antibiotic/antiseptic soap rubbing hands vigorously up to 60 seconds making sure to wash entire hands, fingers, nails, and dry each thoroughly with disposable paper towels. This is especially important after using the toilet and before eating, and before and after patient care or those who have contracted C-difficile.  Research has found that alcohol hand gels alone are not effective to prevent spreading C-difficile due to gels being sticky.
  2. Use at least 0.5% chlorine solution or bleach and water based mix disposable wipes on environmental surfaces in contact with person. Disposal of toilet tissue and wipes into trash or flushing are essential.
  3. Soiled undergarments and laundry to be washed in warm soapy water separate from other laundry. Disposal type undergarment should be discarded in plastic trash bags.
  4. Education regarding C-diff and how it is spread including any healthcare professionals, family and friends who have contact.
  5. Early detection.

The intent of this article is for basic information purposes only. It is not to diagnosis or treat individuals. please contact your physician or primary healthcare provider.

Public awareness of “superbugs” has increased in the United States and it affords healthcare professionals an opportunity to educate the general public and patients who look forward to receive what we have to give which is one of the most important goals of The HealthyCross.

Live Life Healthier!

 Vickie RN BSN

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