C. diff Infection Symptoms
A person with a mild C. diff (C. difficile) infection may have
- a low-grade fever,
- watery stools for 5-10 days (mild diarrhea), and
- mild abdominal cramps and tenderness.
A person with severe C. diff infection may have
- a high fever of 102 F to 104 F (39 C to 40 C),
- more than 10 watery stools a day (severe diarrhea) with blood, and
- severe abdominal pain and tenderness.
What is C. diff (Clostridium difficile)?
Clostridium difficile or C. diff is a bacterium. Microscopically it is
referred to as gram positive and rod-shaped. It is exists best in a low
oxygen environment. It was first described in 1935, and is considered one of the
most common causes of infections in the colon. Clostridium difficile is also
referred to as C. diff and C. difficile.
C. diff can be found in uninfected persons. However, people taking
antibiotics are risk of becoming infected with this bacterium as antibiotics
disrupt the normal bowel bacteria and allow C. diff to grow rapidly
(proliferate). The growth
of C. diff in the colon leads to
inflammation of the colon (colitis, specifically pseudomembranous colitis).
Adults aged 65 years and older are at higher risk to become infected.
Is C. diff (Clostridium difficile) contagious?
Yes, C. diff is contagious. Microorganisms can be spread from person-to-person by touch or by direct contact with contaminated objects and surfaces (for example, clothing, cell phones, door handles). Some individuals are carriers of this bacterium but have no symptoms of infection. However, these people are still infected with the bacteria can spread the infection to others.
In general, the bacteria have to increase in numbers rapidly to cause disease, so the bacteria can be transferred to people, but not cause significant infection immediately. Disease occurs when conditions favor growth of these organisms. Conditions that favor growth are
- weakened immune systems,
- the elderly, and
- especially individuals that are hospitalized, and are being treated with antibiotics that suppress the normal bowel flora.
Avoiding direct and indirect physical contact with contaminated areas reduces the likelihood of contagion.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/23/2016