What is Clostridium Difficile?
Clostridium difficile – C.diff for short – is a bacterium which causes diarrhea and severe inflammation in the colon. It can be life-threatening.
Who Is Most at Risk of Dying
As you might expect, the most vulnerable population is our elderly population. They are the ones most likely to become infected from C.diff and far more likely to die from the disease or complications of it.
- The elderly often have a lowered immune system
- They are also more likely to have other conditions which contribute to the gravity of their condition
- Many older people are living in nursing homes or other community facilities, where disease is easily transmitted. This is largely because of overuse of antibiotics and poor control of infection in general.
The CDC has a number of tracking tools mandated for use in nursing homes. One such tool has 26 different fields to be filled in for each patient, whether or not they have any symptoms.
In spite of the overwhelmingly heavy regulation of nursing homes, there is still much to be desired in the control of infection. This is especially true when there are patient tranfers to or from hospitals or from one facility to another.
Treatment for C.diff Infections Has Become More Difficult
Right now close to 500,000 people contract C.diff in the U.S. every year, and sometimes people have the infection more than once.
The disease has a new strain which is more toxic and refractory to the medications formerly used. It is now being seen in patients who haven’t taken antibiotics or been a patient in a hospital. There has been an increase in frequency and severity of the infection.
Family Needs to Stay Tuned In
In spite of the supervision intended to control C.diff, the infection is far from being under control. It’s another reason for family to stay very tuned in to what is happening to their loved one in a nursing home or indeed even at home.