Infection Control and C. Diff

What is C. Diff and how the Trust works to prevent infection.

Clostridium difficile is a spore forming bacterium.  It is present as one of the "normal" bacteria in the gut in up to 33% of healthy adults.  If the balance of the "normal" gut bacteria gets altered, then it is possible for Clostridium difficile to flourish and cause an infection.

What are the effects of Clostridium difficile infection?

If the balance of the normal gut flora (bacteria) is altered, Clostridium difficile can flourish and produce a toxin that causes watery diarrhoea.

Symptoms can include:

  • Diarrhoea of varying severity.  Occasionally this may lead to severe inflammation of the bowel.
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain or tenderness

Who does it affect?  Are some people more at risk?

The risk of being affected by Clostridium difficile infection is higher in people who:

  • are taking antibiotics (as these may alter the normal gut flora)
  • are in the over 65-age group (over 80% of cases reported involve people of this age)
  • have a poor or low immune system
  • have had gut or abdominal surgery