What is Clostridium Difficile?
Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is a spore-producing bacterium that lives naturally in the gut of up to three percent of healthy adults where it rarely causes problems.
However, when certain antibiotics disturb the balance of 'normal' bacteria in the gut, C. difficile can cause illness. It can be spread from person to person on the hands.
When we use antibiotics, the balance of the bacteria (flora) in the gut can change which can lead to diarrhoea or severe inflammation of the bowel, particularly in people over the age of 65 and poorly patients - it can sometimes be life-threatening.
What are we doing to tackle C.diff?
One way we tackle this problem is to minimise the use of antibiotics associated with the development of Clostridium difficile diarrhoea.
We also try and ensure patients are only given antibiotics when they are absolutely necessary and for the shortest amount of time possible for their particular condition.
More than 80% of cases are reported in the over 65-age group, and Immuno-compromised patients (those who have problems with their immune system) are also at risk. Patients who have repeated enemas and/or gut surgery are also at an increased risk of developing the disease. C. difficile can be treated with specific antibiotics.
Symptoms can include diarrhoea, fever, loss of appetite, nausea and abdominal pain or tenderness. The infection is normally diagnosed by carrying out laboratory testing which shows the presence of the C. difficile toxins, but clinical signs of the infection are treated immediately and nursing and medical staff are advised not to wait for the laboratory confirmation.
For more information about Clostridium difficile visit the Health Protection Agency