What North Texans should Know about C-diff

C-diff infections are linked to more than 20,000 American deaths every year. It is estimated that 1 in 5 North Texans could be a carrier of the C-diff germ. Find out what you can do to help stop the spread of this dangerous infection.

What is Clostridium difficile?

Clostridium difficile or C-diff is a bacterial infection that causes acute diarrhea and inflammation of the colon. Clostridium difficile has been linked to 20,000 American deaths each year. It is a growing problem in the North Texas area. Signs and symptoms include:

  • 3 or more watery stools in 24 hours
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain/tenderness

Who’s at risk for C-diff?

Individuals on antibiotics are more likely to succumb to a C-diff infection. Caregivers of C-diff patients are also at a greater risk of contracting the illness. The elderly are at greater risk of hospitalization from this disease. Most of the annual 20,000 C-diff deaths occur in individuals over 65.

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How is C-diff spread?

The C-diff bacteria are found in human feces. North Texans can become infected if they touch contaminated surfaces and then touch their mouth or mucous membranes. Healthcare workers can spread the bacteria to patients or contaminate surfaces through hand contact. Any surface, device, or material––such as toilets or rectal thermometers–– that becomes contaminated with feces can become a reservoir for the C-diff spores. Clostridium Difficile spores can live for long periods on surfaces.

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How can we fight the spread of C-diff?

The one thing every North Texan can do to stop the spread of C-diff is to wash their hands with soap and water. Hand gel is not enough! If you are exhibiting the above signs and symptoms, call your healthcare provider, you may need to stop or change antibiotic treatment. If you are a physician, ask your patients if they have had diarrhea while on antibiotics and try to avoid those antibiotics more frequently associated with CDI. Caregivers of a person with C-diff should thoroughly clean all patient contact surfaces with bleach, and use dedicated equipment.

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NUMBERS TO KNOW*

20,000 Americans die each year from complications related to C-diff

1 in 5North Texans may carry the C-diff germ

50%of antibiotics given out are unnecessary

94%of C-diff infections are connected with getting medical care

20%lower C-diff infection rates in hospitals that follow infection control protocol

400%increase in C-diff related deaths since 2000

65Half of the infections occur in people under 65, but most deaths occur with those 65 and older

*statistics from CDC, 2012 and SHEA