Clostridium difficile, more commonly known as C-diff is an infectious agent that causes profound diarrhea. It is highly infectious and people who are afflicted with this are isolated if in a hospital setting, or given strict hygiene and hand washing instructions if they remain out in the community. This particular infection is particular dangerous to the elderly, very young, or anyone with compromised health due to the high risk of dehydration from the excessive diarrhea.
In order to get clostridium difficile you need to ingest its spores. These infectious spores are found in the feces of an infected individual and are transferred from the feces onto objects from direct contact with infected feces, or from contaminated hands that were not properly washed that spread the spores onto other objects.
Because Clostridium difficile is so contagious, preventing the spread of infection is highly important. In a healthcare setting infected individuals are isolated in rooms without a roommate. Individuals that enter these isolated rooms must wear proper attire including gowns and gloves, and must wash their hands with soap and water before entering and leaving the room. Antibacterial alcohol rubs and lotions must not be used to wash hands because the structure of clostridium difficile is a spore and the antibacterial alcohol does not penetrate the protective shell and kill the bacteria. These infected individuals must remain isolated while in the health-care setting until they have two consecutive solid bowel movements indicating they are no longer contagious.
If an individual is being treated for clostridium difficile at home they must also take precautions to prevent the spread of infection to their family, roommates, coworkers, etc… If possible the infected individual should have a restroom designated solely for themselves. The infected individual should be instructed on how to properly wash their hands and be instructed to wash with soap and water before and after voiding or having a bowel movement. The infected individuals used clothing/towels should be kept separate from the rest of the household and washed and dried with the highest temperatures possible. In addition, all solid surfaces the infected person comes into contact with should be washed with a bleach solution daily. As with individuals in the health-care setting these precautions must continue until the infected individual has two consecutive solid stools.
Clostridium difficile is a highly infectious and potentially deadly disease that can usually be prevented through proper hand washing and hygiene. The costs in terms of money, discomfort, and lives lost can be decreased greatly if we follow the proper cleanliness routines outlined.