Thursday, 26 February 2015

Dangerous C. Difficile Germ Infects 500,000 Americans a Year: CDC


Overuse of antibiotics tied to rise in serious infections

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 25, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Almost half a million Americans were infected with the bacteria Clostridium difficilein 2011, and 29,000 died within a month of diagnosis, U.S. health officials report.

"Infections with C. difficile have become increasingly common over the last few decades, and are seen in patients in health-care facilities as well as people in their communities," Dr. Michael Bell said at a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention press conference Wednesday.

C. difficile, which causes inflammation of the colon and deadly diarrhea, is often linked to antibiotic use, said Bell, deputy director of healthcare quality promotion at the CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.

Antibiotics can destroy the natural bacterial balance in the colon, allowing C. difficile to take over, he explained.

These infections can be prevented by controlling use of antibiotics, and making sure health-care facilities use infection-control procedures when treating patients infected with C. difficile, Bell said. Such measures have resulted in a 10 percent drop in C. difficile infections since 2011, he added.

"If we can improve antibiotic prescribing, we expect to see rates of C. difficile infection improve dramatically," Bell said. This means taking antibiotics only when necessary and for as long as necessary, he explained.

Treatment of C. difficile involves antibiotics. However, even when the infection is cured, it is difficult to restore the colon's normal bacteria, which enables C. difficile to recur, Bell explained.

"One in five patients has at least one relapse that requires treatment," he said.

Although anyone can get C. difficile, the elderly are especially vulnerable.

"About 55 percent of health care-associated C. difficile infections and 80 percent of the deaths that occur because of it happen in people 65 years of age and older," Bell said.

Moreover, he added, "one out of nine patients over 65 years old with C. difficile infection dies within 30 days of diagnosis."

The report was published Feb. 26 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Severe C. difficile infection can damage the colon, requiring surgery, Bell added.

source : Dangerous C. Difficile Germ Infects 500,000 Americans a Year: CDC

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