2016-06-15 15:57:18 UTC

Clostridium Difficile 101: What is Clostridium Difficile (C. Diff)?

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  • Clostridium difficile, or C. diff for short, is an infection from a bacterium that can grow in your intestines and cause bad GI symptoms.
  • The main risk of getting C. diff infection is antibiotic use. 
  • C. diff is very contagious.
  • C. diff can usually be treated with antibiotics, but sometimes more intense treatments are needed to get rid of the infection.
  • Unlike other intestinal bacteria, it can take a long time to get rid of C. diff and start feeling better.
  • Each year, C. diff infects roughly 500,000 people in the U.S. and often calls for hospitalization.
  • In very bad cases, C. diff infection can be deadly, with estimates of C. diff-linked death ranging from 14,000 to 30,000 each year. 



How Is It Passed?


  • Perhaps as much as 10 percent of people carry the bacteria without feeling sick or having symptoms. These people still shed the bacteria through their stool. 
  • When people who carry C. diff do not wash their hands after going to the bathroom, they can taint the food they handle and they can leave the bacteria on things they touch. 
  • The bacteria can survive for months unless the area is fully cleaned with products specifically designed to kill them, like bleach. 
  • If someone touches a surface contaminated with C. diff, they may accidentally ingest the bacteria. This doesn’t mean they will get sick, but they could still carry the bacteria and be able to spread it. 





© AGA, September 2017

©AGA, July 2016

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