About Clostridium Difficile
Clostridium difficile facts, including how the disease is spread, common symptoms, treatment, and how to minimize your risk of infection.
What is it?
Clostridium difficile is a Gram positive, spore-forming bacteria.
How is it spread?
- The bacteria are found in the feces. People can become infected if they touch items or surfaces that are contaminated with feces and then touch their mouth or mucous membranes. Healthcare workers can spread the bacteria to other patients or contaminate surfaces through hand contact.
Who gets it?
- People at greatest risk for infection are:
- the elderly (>65 years)
- those with other serious illnesses
- have conditions requiring use of antibiotics
- have recently taken antibiotics
Watery liquid diarrhea lasting for two or more days is the most common symptom. Other symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain/cramps
Signs and Symptoms of severe infection:
- Watery diarrhea 10 to 15 times a day
- Blood or pus in stool
- Weight loss
Loose stools during or shortly after antibiotic therapy is common. Talk to your doctor if you have fever, severe abdominal pain or cramping, blood in your stool, or any converns about your health.
If left untreated, serious complications of severe C. difficile infection include:
- serious intestinal conditions such as colitis
- Death (in rare cases)
- If you suspect you have a C. difficile infection talk to your doctor.
- C. difficile is generally treated for 10 days with antibiotics prescribed by your healthcare provider.
The best prevention method is to frequently clean your hands and your environment.
- Wash your hands with soap and water, especially after using the restroom and before eating;
- Clean surfaces in bathrooms, kitchens and other areas on a regular basis with household detergent/disinfectants.
- FAQs (frequently asked questions) about "Clostridium difficile" (PDF: 180KB/1 page)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fact sheet about C. difficile bacteria. Attention: non-MDH link.