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    Friday, April 17, 2009

    Sounding the Alarm About C. difficile

    Sounding the Alarm About C. difficile

    Like the more well-known methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, [MRSA] C. difficile is associated with the use of antibiotics, which provide room for “bad” bacterium in your gut, like the C. difficile bacteria, to take over. In other words, although the antibiotic you take for an illness may cure one infection, it may also trigger another infection in your gut -the development of C. difficile.

    C. difficile is particularly alarming because:

    • A hospitalized patient may catch the infection from up to two-thirds of hospitalized patients who may be infected with it.

    • The rate of C. difficile infection among hospital patients doubled between 2001 and 2005, according to a recent article on the subject in the “Science Times” section of The New York Times,

    • Individuals who have C. difficile but are asymptomatic, and who are admitted to healthcare facilities, can transmit the organism to other susceptible patients.

    • It has begun to appear in seemingly healthy adults who in some cases were never in a hospital or low term care facility.

    • It is becoming more deadly because of the emergence of a new hyper-virulent strain.
    To protect yourself and your loved ones from C. difficile, I recommend first and foremost that you limit your use of antibiotics.

    I also advise that if you are hospitalized you:

    • Confirm that the walls of your hospital room and especially its bathroom and toilet have been washed
    thoroughly with chlorine bleach before you move into your hospital room.

    • Ask your doctor to wipe the flat surface on his stethoscope to remove germs before he uses it to examine

    • Ask everyone who comes to visit you at the hospital to wash their hands when they enter your room and
    to not sit on your bed. Ideally, they should not use your bathroom either.

    Dr. Perry Hookman

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