Clostridium difficile, commonly called C. difficile, is a bacterium that can produce toxins that damage the lining of the intestines, resulting in symptoms that range from mild diarrhea to death. It is the most common cause of infectious diarrhea in hospitals and long-term care facilities in Canada (Public Health Agency of Canada, Healthcare-Associated Clostridium difficile Infections, 2014). People often become sick because they have received antibiotics that kill off other naturally occurring bacteria in the intestines and allow the C. difficile to thrive.
In the last decade, a new and more virulent strain of C. difficile, NAP-1, has emerged, and it is spreading across North America and Europe. It produces up to 24 times more toxin than other strains of C. difficile. More toxin means more sick people with diarrhea, leading to more environmental contamination and more C. difficile to potentially infect other patients.
You can successfully reduce the transmission of healthcare-associated infections with these six evidence-based infection control strategies:
- Establish an aggressive hand hygiene program
- Clean and decontaminate the environment and equipment
- Implement contact precautions for any patient infected or colonized with a superbug
- Perform MRSA and VRE screening surveillance on admission and at other times
- Regularly report superbug infection rates to frontline and hospital leaders
- Establish and implement an antimicrobial stewardship program
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