Author Archives: Ramanan Laxminarayan

C. diff Infections: Worse Than We Thought

Aug 21, 2012, 1:20 PM, Posted by Ramanan Laxminarayan

Medical professionals check a patient during admittance procedure.

Infections caused by the dangerous microbe Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, are much more prevalent in hospitals and health care facilities than previously reported, according to an investigative front page story in USA Today. This bug is most often seen in hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities. It causes severe diarrhea and intestinal problems that can worsen and even be fatal. The story cites a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who says annual fatalities may be as high as 30,000 per year, more than twice as high as some recent estimates.

The article accurately points to many reasons for this problem. Many hospital infection control programs aren’t stringent enough and C. diff reporting rates are poor. Hospitals need to be more prudent in their antibiotic use. C. diff thrives when healthy bacteria usually present in the intestines are wiped out by certain antibiotics patients take. In the absence of these healthy bacteria, C. diff can take over.

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