C. diff 'not only spread in wards'

14 Feb 2012

A new study has found that the bacterium Clostridium difficile (C. diff) may not solely be spread through personal contact with infected patients in hospital wards.

Researchers at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford analysed stool samples from nearly 15,000 hospital patients and said less than a quarter (23%) of the C. diff strains they found were connected to other symptomatic patients.

The findings, which have been published in the online journal Public Library of Science Medicine, suggest that hospitals may use the wrong strategy to deal with the bacterium which can lead to diarrhoea, fever and abdominal pain.

The team of 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

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