Superbug makes first Aussie appearance
A new, hypervirulent strain of Clostridium difficile is taking hold in Australia, specialists warn, after a man acquired the infection in Melbourne.
What is Clostridium Difficile (C. diff)?
C. diff is one of the many types of bacteria that can be found in faeces (bowel movement).
What is C. diff Disease?
C. diff occurs when antibiotics kill your good bowel bacteria and allow the C. diff to grow.
When C. diff grows, it produces toxins. These toxins can damage the bowel and may cause
diarrhoea. C. diff disease is usually mild but sometimes can be severe. In severe cases, surgery
may be needed, and in extreme cases C. diff may cause death. C. diff is the most common cause
of infectious diarrhoea in hospitals or long-term care homes.
The main symptoms of C. diff disease are:
• Watery diarrhoea
• Abdominal pain or tenderness
Who Gets C. diff?
C. diff disease usually occurs during or after the use of antibiotics. Old age, presence of other
serious illnesses and poor overall health may increase the risk of severe disease.
How Will Your Doctor Know That You Have C. diff?
If you have symptoms of C. diff, your doctor will ask for a sample of your watery stool. The
laboratory will test the stool to see if C. diff toxins are present.
How is C. diff Treated?
Treatment depends on how sick you are. People with mild symptoms may not need treatment.
For more severe disease, antibiotics are required.
How Does C. diff Spread?
When a person has C. diff disease, the bacteria in the stool can contaminate surfaces such as
toilets, handles, bedpans, or commode chairs. When touching these items our hands can become
contaminated. If we then touch our mouth without washing our hands, we can become infected.
Our soiled hands can also spread the bacteria to other surfaces.
How to Prevent Spread?
If you are in the hospital and have C. diff. diarrhoea, you will be put on precautions until you are
free from diarrhoea for at least two days. Your activities outside the room may be restricted. All
health care staff who enter your room wear a gown and gloves. Everyone MUST clean their
hands when leaving your room.