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Diseases & Topics

Clostridium difficile Infection

Clostridium difficile or "C. diff" infection is one of several common healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). It is caused by a bacterium that causes an inflammation of the colon, known as colitis. Diarrhea and fever are the most common symptoms of Clostridium difficile infection. Although most C. diff infections are healthcare associated, infections have also been reported in healthy people with no recent exposure to hospitals or other healthcare settings.

Prolonged use of antibiotics is the most important risk for getting C. diff infection. Along with the elderly, people who have other illnesses or conditions requiring prolonged use of antibiotics are at greater risk of getting this infection. The bacteria are found in the feces of people with the infection. Other people can become infected if they touch items or surfaces that are contaminated with feces and then touch their mouth or mucous membranes. Healthcare workers can spread the bacteria directly to patients or can contaminate surfaces through hand contact. Thorough handwashing with soap and water remains one of the most important ways of preventing transmission of C.diff.

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