C. Difficile - Share Your Experience

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What is Clostridium difficile (C. difficile)?

Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is a bacterium that is related to the bacteria 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, infectious form.

C. difficile spores are found frequently in:

  • hospitals,
  • nursing homes,
  • extended care facilities, and
  • nurseries for newborn infants.

They can be found on:

  • bedpans,
  • furniture,
  • toilet seats,
  • linens,
  • telephones,
  • stethoscopes,
  • fingernails,
  • rings (jewelry),
  • floors,
  • infants' rooms, and
  • diaper pails.

They even can be carried by pets. Thus, these environments are a ready source for infection with C. difficile.

Return to Clostridium Difficile Colitis (Antibiotic-Associated Colitis, C. difficile colitis)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Yjg, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: March 25

I developed C. difficile colitis after knee replacement surgery. I went into a rehabilitation facility following the surgery and was very ill with diarrhea when I left. Two days later I was in the emergency room. I was admitted and diagnosed with C. diff. I was in the hospital for two weeks. About a week later I started having symptoms again and was readmitted. This time the tests were negative, but the symptoms remained. They finally did a colonoscopy where I was found to have colon cancer. It was an awful ordeal but because of the C. diff the cancer was discovered before it spread and I didn"t need any treatments. Next week I am having my other knee replaced and I am very concerned about the antibiotics.

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Comment from: Holly, 75 or over Female (Caregiver) Published: May 02

C. difficile colitis killed Mama in 2011. Here are my 'lessons learned': 1) Avoid institutions like the plague, pun intended. 2) Personally witness hand washing/glove changing before allowing anyone to touch you. 3) Don't even contemplate setting foot on a slick surface. Mama never had health problems, but was hospitalized with a broken ankle after slipping on ice. They gave her an external fixator along with pneumonia (a first) and antibiotics, then shipped her to rehabilitation to wait for ankle surgery. The metal scaffolding on her ankle meant she had to suffer the indignity of asking for personal assistance - another first. One day, with eyes downcast, she quietly said, "I had to call for help last night and the gentleman who came wasn't very nice to me." I escalated to the facility's director. Someone had shoddy hygiene practices. A table appeared outside her room stacked with masks, gowns, gloves, and booties, and a 'precautions' sign on her door. We were told not to worry - almost everyone in a rehab or hospital gets C. difficile, treatable with antibiotics. Three days later she was rushed to the emergency room (ER) at 6 am, moved to ICU at 8 am, and by 10 am they told me she was in septic shock and was going to die. I called hospice and their nurse was by my side in 15 minutes. At least she died peacefully and knew she was at home and that I was holding her hand. This was 3 years ago.

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