Diarrhea-Causing Bacteria Common In US Hospitals

A new study has found that the bacteria responsible for causing diarrhea is commonly found in many U.S. hospitals.

As many as 13 out of every 1,000 hospital patients are infected with Clostridium difficile, according to the report from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

This amounts to about 7,000 patients on any given day.

The study represents the largest, most comprehensive nationwide study of the prevalence of CDI in healthcare facilities, researchers said.

They added that the new report findings were as much as 20 times greater than previous estimates.

Researchers collected data from almost 648 healthcare facilities in 47 states. They presented their findings on Tuesday at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC’s) conference, “Clostridium difficile:  A Call to Action,” in Orlando, Florida. A total of 1,443 patients were identified with CDI.

Those who are older and more frail are at a greater risk of serious CDI that can lead to death, according to health-care epidemiologist Dr. William Jarvis, who led the study.

“You can get disease that ranges all the way from simple diarrhea all the way to perforation of the bowel requiring surgery, … shock and death,” Jarvis said.

According to the survey, 54.4 percent of patients with CDI were identified within 48 hours of admission and 84.7 percent were on the medical services, meaning they were being treated for general medical conditions like diabetes, pulmonary or cardiac problems and were on wards throughout the hospital.

Researchers found that only bleach-based cleaners were effective at eliminating CDI.

“Antibiotics don’t kill it and most germicides used for environmental cleaning don’t kill it. Only bleach does,” Jarvis said.

Even antibiotics allow invaders such as CDI to flourish. And by the time patients are diagnosed, they have had a day or two to contaminate their rooms and everyone who has had contact with them, he said.

“This study shows that C. difficile infection is an escalating issue in our nation’s healthcare facilities,” said Jarvis. “Clearly, preventing the development and transmission of CDI should be a top priority for every healthcare institution.” 

Image Caption: This photograph depicts Clostridium difficile colonies after 48hrs growth on a blood agar plate; Magnified 4.8X. C. difficile, an anaerobic gram-positive rod, is the most frequently identified cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAC). It accounts for approximately 15-25% of all episodes of AAC. (CDC)

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Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology

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