Clostridium Difficile

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Clostridium Difficile

Clostridium Difficile

Clostridium difficile (C. diff.) is a bacteria sometimes found in the gut of healthy people.  When C. diff. is present in the  gut along with other 'normal bacteria' it will not cause any harm. Sometimes however, the normal balance of the gut can be upset, for example when taking antibiotics.  This allows the C. diff. to multiply in large numbers, releasing toxins into the body.  These toxins irritate the lining of the bowel and can cause a range symptoms such as diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, loss of appetite, fever and nausea.

When C. diff. causes diarrhoea, spores are released which contaminate the surrounding environment.  These spores can live on surfaces for a long time, and are easily picked up on other people's hands.  Through hand to mouth contact, the C. diff can then be transferred to the stomach and bowel.

Patients with C. diff. are treated in a side room, and additional cleaning regimens put in place to kill the C. diff spores. Patients will be allocated their own toilet or commode and staff will wear gloves and aprons when undertaking certain procedures.

It is not necessary for visitors to wear gloves and aprons unless assisting with personal care, however it is essential that visitors gel their hands on entering a ward, and wash their hands with soap and water when leaving.

Treatment of C. diff. depends on how severe the diarrhoea is.  Sometimes no treatment is needed, and the symptoms resolve of their own accord, particularly if the patients has completed the course of antibiotics and balance of the normal gut flora is restored. Any antibiotics that are being taken will be stopped where possible, and a specific antibiotic which is effective in the treatment of C. diff may be presecribed. Most people with C. diff make a full recovery.