The superbugs are here–and their microscopic army is growing at an alarming pace.
A new report shows how a once-rare bug has rapidly turned into the top bacterial threat in hospitals throughout the southeast–and quite possibly around the nation.
The bug’s name is Clostridium difficile, or C-diff for short, and it’s number one with a bullet, according to a study of 28 hospitals in the region. It’s overtaken the granddaddy of all drug-resistant bacteria, Methicillin- resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), as it tears a path through the south.
In fact, C-diff is now 25 percent more common than MRSA in southeastern hospitals, according to the study presented at the Fifth Decennial International Conference on Healthcare-Associated Infections.
It may be even more widespread–probably is–but the researchers only looked at that one region.
That’s some pretty bad news, because this new Number One lives long, spreads easily, and is incredibly difficult to kill.
It sickens up to half a million people a year… and kills thousands.
The bug was once largely confined to sick, elderly people in hospitals and nursing homes, but that’s no longer the case: Another new study finds that the number of children hospitalized with C-diff infections doubled between 1997 and 2006.
That study, published in Emerging Infectious Disease, found cases among children to be rising at 9 percent each year.
And what’s really shocking about this one is that it’s truly a superbug, emphasis on the word “super.” C. difficile spores can live on hard surfaces for months, and withstand even the alcohol-based cleaners commonly used in hospitals.
Then again, it should be easy enough to keep them off those surfaces in the first place. Since C-diff generally spreads through fecal contact, better bathroom habits could quite literally save thousands of lives.
That’s some potty talk everyone should hear.
I told you a little about C-diff back in December. (Click here to read, “Seniors warned over deadly infections.”) Many of us have some of these bacteria in our stomachs, but when everything is in balance our other gut bacteria will keep these critters in check.
Throw in some antibiotics, however, and you’ll kill off most of those good bacteria, giving the more resistant C- diff a chance to thrive. More than 90 percent of infections hit after an antibiotic course, which is just one more reason to use these meds sparingly.
And when you do, watch out. Because C-diff is so resistant to drugs, around 25 percent of all patients experience relapses, sometimes more than once.
C-diff symptoms include fever, vomiting, cramps, chills, abdominal tenderness and loss of appetite… but the first sign is usually diarrhea. If you or a loved one comes down with the runs following an antibiotics course, seek help fast.
Quick action can help prevent you from becoming a new statistic.