Dr. Lee was born in Shanghai, China, and received his college and medical training in the United States. He is fluent in English and three Chinese dialects. He graduated with chemistry departmental honors from Harvey Mudd College. He was appointed president of AOA society at UCLA School of Medicine. He underwent internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship training at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.
Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is a bacterium that is related to the
bacterium that cause tetanus and botulism. The
C. difficile bacterium has two
forms, an active, infectious form that cannot survive in the environment for
prolonged periods, and a nonactive, "noninfectious" form, called a spore, that
can survive in the environment for prolonged periods. Although spores cannot
cause infection directly, when they are ingested they transform into the active,
C. difficile spores are found frequently in:
care facilities, and
nurseries for newborn infants.
They can be found on:
infants' rooms, and
They even can be carried by
pets. Thus, these environments are a ready source for infection with C.
What is Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) colitis?
Antibiotic-associated (C. difficile) colitis is an infection of the colon caused
by C. difficile that occurs primarily among individuals who have been using
antibiotics. It is the most common infection acquired by patients while they are
in the hospital. More than three million C. difficile infections occur in
hospitals in the US each year. After a stay of only two days in a hospital, 10%
of patients will develop infection with C. difficile. C. difficile also may be
acquired outside of hospitals in the community. It is estimated that 20,000
infections with C. difficile occur in the community each year in the U.S.
Individuals with mild C. difficile colitis may have:
a low-grade fever,
mild diarrhea (5-10 watery stools a day),
mild abdominal cramps and tenderness.
Those with severe C. difficile colitis may have:
a high fever (temperature of 102 F to 104 F),
severe diarrhea (more than 10 watery stools a day) with blood, and
severe abdominal pain and tenderness.
Severe diarrhea also can lead to dehydration and disturbances in the
electrolytes (minerals) in the body. Rarely, severe colitis can lead to
life-threatening complications such as megacolon (markedly dilated colon),
peritonitis (inflammation of the lining of the abdominal), and perforation of
Chemically, electrolytes are substances that become ions in solution and acquire the capacity to conduct electricity. Electrolytes are present in the human body, and the balance of the electrolytes in our bodies i"...