(C. difficile, C. diff)
Clostridium Difficile (C. diff) Colitis Overview
Clostridium difficile (or C. difficile, C. diff) colitis is a common infection of the colon that is typically associated with the use of antibiotics. It is, therefore, also called antibiotic-associated colitis. Another common name for this condition is pseudomembranous colitis.
Clostridium is a family of bacteria containing several members. Some of the other well known bacteria in this group include Clostridium botulinum and Clostridium tetani, which are the causes of botulism and tetanus, respectively.
There are typically two forms of Clostridium difficile; one is the inactive or non-infectious form, called the spore, and the other is the active and infectious form. The spore form can survive in the environment for a long time, whereas the active form cannot.
Clostridium difficile colonize the intestinal tract by the oral route (mouth). This disease typically follows the disruption of the balance of normal colonic bacteria (normal flora), which is usually due to the use of antibiotics. Although C. diff spores may reside in the active form in the colon of some individuals (carrier state), they can also be ingested in this form (fecal-oral transmission).
After being shed in the stool, C. diff may be found residing in many places, especially in hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care facilities.
The common locations of the C. diff include:
- bathroom floors,
- diaper pails,
- jewelry (rings),
- infant's rooms,
- toilet seats, and
- other objects commonly used by patients and health care professionals.
During the last 10 years, C. difficile infections have been observed to be more frequent, severe, and resistant to standard therapy. This is linked to the emergence of new strains of C. difficile and continued increase use of antibiotics. Large out breaks of C. difficile infections have been observed throughout North America and Europe. Not only are the incidence of these infections increasing in the hospital setting but they are also occurring in the community setting (community acquired infections ).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/12/2014
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