Clostridium difficile outbreaks
Pierce, Marcia M. Department of Biological Sciences, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, Kentucky.
- Antibiotic-associated diarrhea
- In hospitals and in the community
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Until the 1970s, the clinical significance of Clostridium difficile was underestimated by the medical profession. Although this bacterial species was occasionally isolated from fecal cultures, it was rarely associated with human disease. Today, however, toxin-producing strains of C. difficile are recognized as a significant cause of antibiotic-associated gastrointestinal diseases that can range from mild, self-limiting diarrhea to severe, life-threatening pseudomembranous colitis (hemorrhagic necrosis in the intestine). Until fairly recently, individuals who developed symptoms of C. difficile infection were most often hospital patients receiving antibiotics for another infection. Recent reports, though, suggest that the rate and severity of C. difficile–associated disease are on the increase in the United States and in other, diverse locations, including the United Kingdom and Canada. What is of greatest significance is that this increase is now occurring in populations considered at low risk for the disease.
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