The number of people contracting Clostridium difficile is increasing, and the infection often is contracted outside of the hospital, according to a study.
“We have seen C. difficile infection as a cause for diarrhea in humans for more than 30 years, and the incidence of infections has been increasing in the last decade,” Sahil Khanna, MBBS, of the Mayo Clinic Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and lead author of the study, said in a news release. “It has been believed that the typical profile of a person with C. difficile is an older patient, taking antibiotics, while in the hospital.
“For the first time, we have described a significantly increased incidence of C. difficile in children with diarrhea in a population-based cohort. Importantly, we also found that more than three-quarters of cases of C. difficile in children are being contracted in the community, not in the hospital.”
Results of the study showed that the incidence of C. difficile infection in children was more than 12 times higher between 2004 and 2009 when compared to the period 1991 through 1997 (32.6 cases per 100,000 vs. 2.6). In addition, 75% of cases were community-acquired, meaning the patients had not been hospitalized for at least four weeks prior to contracting C. difficile.
C. difficile is commonly seen on surfaces in the hospital and described as appearing in some food sources, including ground beef. Because the infection can spread from person to person, Mayo Clinic researchers recommend practicing prevention, including washing hands with soap and water; cleaning suspected contaminated surfaces with bleach-based solutions; avoiding contact with people known to have CDI; and taking extra hygiene precautions if living with a person who has CDI or who works in a healthcare setting with possible exposure to patients with CDI.
The study was presented at the Digestive Disease Week conference May 19-22 in San Diego.