Most people have heard of MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) infections, but there’s a new deadly bacterium lurking. C.diff (Clostridium difficile) is a multi-drug resistant bacterium most commonly found in hospitals and long-term care facilities. Each year in the US, more than 28,000 people die from C.diff, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon. C.diff usually occurs after the use of antibiotic medications.
Most patients acquire C.diff during a hospital stay and research shows that the longer the hospital stay, the more likely they are to contract the disease. C.diff has more than doubled since the mid-1990s and currently outnumbers the annual total of MRSA cases in the United States. C.diff is no longer just found in the elderly or seriously ill. The number of C.diff infections among children has nearly doubled in recent years.
Symptoms Of C.diff
- Diarrhea several times a day for two or more days, which can become severe
- Abdominal cramping and tenderness, which can become severe and painful
- Blood in stool
- Loss of appetite
Get your parent to a doctor if symptoms last more than three days or if he or she has a fever, severe cramping, or blood in the stool.
How To Prevent C.diff
You can help your parent, spouse, grandparent or other loved one avoid this new deadly bacterium Act as their advocate by prompting medical professionals in a polite manner to follow these guidelines:
- Ask anyone who comes in contact with your parent or loved one to wash their hands.
- When your parent or other loved one is hospitalized, ask for a private room. This cuts down on the number of medical professionals and visitors who enter the patient’s hospital room and who can spread the disease.
- In a polite manner, ask the patient’s primary nurse if the hospital room’s surfaces can be cleaned with hospital-grade disinfectant or chlorine bleach. Or do this yourself.
- Help your parent or other loved one avoid the unnecessary use of antibiotics.
- Ask your parent’s doctor to swab his or her stethoscope with an alcohol-based wipe. Ask yourself where this stethoscope might have been before touching your loved one.
- Ask that your parent clean his or her hands before all meals.
- If your parent or other loved one is in a nursing home, all of these guidelines apply. C.diff spreads mainly from the hands of caregivers and can be spread from bedrails, bedside tables, toilets, sinks, stethoscopes, thermometers, telephones and remote controls. Consider wiping down these items yourself with bleach wipes.