C. diff strategy 'could be wrong'
Posted Thu, 09 Feb 2012
The approach of hospitals in tackling Clostridium difficile (C. diff) may be flawed, as new evidence has cast doubts over the way the bug is transmitted.
Until now it has been assumed that the bacterium C. diff spreads through personal contact with infected patients showing symptoms. But research by a team based at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford recently found only a minority of infections by could be accounted for by contact between patients.
Having collected stool samples from almost 15,000 hospital patients, scientists found evidence of C. diff in 4.4%. Further tests identified 69 strains of the bacterium, but only 23% of these could be linked to known symptomatic patients.
Their findings, published in the online journal Public Library of Science Medicine, go against previous thinking, and could have implications for the way the ward bug is combated. The authors, led by Professor Tim Peto, wrote: "In this endemic setting with well-implemented infection control measures, up to three-quarters of new (C. diff) infections are not easily explained by conventional assumptions of ward-based transmission from symptomatic patients and so may not be targeted by current interventions.
"A better understanding of other routes of transmission and reservoirs is needed to determine what other types of control interventions are required to reduce the spread of C. difficile."
Copyright Press Association 2012