C-Difficile Infections On The Rise
A deadly infection known as C-difficile, spread through hospitals and linked to antibiotic use, is on the rise and at an “unacceptable” level, health officials say.
The federal Centers for Disease Control say that the incidence of the infection is at an “historically high levels.” The agency reports that about 14,000 people die annually from the infection, which can be treated if it is caught in time.
The bacterium C-difficile produces spores that can last for months on bathroom fixtures or medical equipment. It’s also related to use of antibiotics, which the CDC says are prescribed way too often.
The overwhelming majority – 94 percent – of cases are found in medical-care facilities, including doctors’ offices, nursing homes and hospitals. As infected patients are transferred from one facility to another, C-difficile easily spreads, especially if health-care workers don’t take adequate.
Ironically, the infection, which causes diarrhea, bloating, loss of appetite and fever, is linked to the use of antibiotics. Using antibiotics too often can destroy protective bacteria as well as bad bacteria.
To guard against the infection, the CDC suggests that doctors avoid the over-prescription of antibiotics, that health care workers wear gloves and gowns when coming into contact with infected patients, and that surfaces in a patients room be cleaned with bleach.
As for potential sufferes, the agency advises that you tell your doctor if you have diarrhea after taking antibiotics, that you not take antibiotics on your own (for example, from left-over prescriptions) and that you wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom.