Clostridium Difficile, also known as C-Difficile, C-Diff, or C. diff, is a common bacterium that lives in the human gut and causes extreme discomfort in the form of colitis and results in the following symptoms to a varying degree (depending on severity):
- Watery diarrhea 3 or more times a day
- Appetite loss
- Stomach pain and bloating
- Not passing stool
- Megacolon, a lethal condition
According to the Centers for Disease Control, C-Diff (which they also refer to as “deadly diarrhea”) was “estimated to cause almost half a million infections in the United States in 2011, and 29,000 died within 30 days of the initial diagnosis,” so it’s something to definitely pay attention to if you or someone you know contracts it.
With incidence of this infection on the rise and its potentially life-threatening consequences, there are a few important facts that you should make yourself and family members aware of to help it from spreading:
Fact 1: 65+ and people with weak immunity most susceptible
C-Diff infections are contracted most frequently during a stay in a hospital or other extended care facility. In fact, it is the most frequent infection to occur with up to 10% of patients acquiring it after only spending two days in the hospital.
Also, people who have been on certain antibiotics during the past 30 days are more susceptible due to the fact that antibiotics kill the “good” gut bacteria that help to fight infection.
Fact 2: It can, in most cases, be treated
Because the C-Diff germ can live for a very long time outside the human body, it is commonly found on surfaces in nursing homes and hospitals such as bed linens, fixtures, telephones, equipment, and it can also spread via human-to-human contact (e.g. shaking hands).
The good news is that most cases can be treated via antibiotics such as metronidazole, vancomycin, or fidaxomicin if caught soon enough. See your doctor for more details. In extreme cases, the infection may need to be removed through surgery.
However, it should be noted that 10-20% who are treated with antibiotics do experience a relapse after the antibiotic series ends.
Fact 3: With precautions, you can stop it from spreading
If you have C-Diff, ensure your healthcare providers and others you come in contact with are washing their hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand cleaner—especially after using the bathroom—so it doesn’t spread. Additionally, ensure that gloves and gowns are worn and that medical equipment is thoroughly cleaned with bleach or other EPA-approved solution. It’s also prudent to ensure you or a loved one has a private room in the care facility.
Fact 4: There is a C-Diff Vaccine Clinical Trial in Utah
If you or a family member are experiencing the symptoms above, or your doctor has confirmed you have C-Difficile, you may qualify for a clinical research study in Salt Lake City, Utah.
If you are between 40-75 years of age and you qualify, you may receive:
- Study related exam
- No charge investigational C-Diff vaccination
- Compensation for time and travel related to the study