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Clostridium difficile

Clostridium difficile, also known as C-diff, is a germ that can cause diarrhea. Most cases of C-diffinfections occur in patients taking antibiotics.

How is Clostridium difficile spread?

C-diff bacteria are found throughout the environment, in soil, air, water, human and animal feces, and food products such as processed meats. A small number of healthy people naturally carry the bacteria in their large intestine and do not have ill effects from the infection

C-diff is spread through direct person-to-person contact, usually by hand-to-hand contact, or from contact with environmental surfaces that have been contaminated with the live bacteria or spores

Some people who have C. diff never become ill; however, they can spread the infection. The illness usually develops during or shortly after a course of antibiotics. Signs and symptoms may not appear for weeks or even months afterward

What are the symptoms of Clostridium difficile?

The most common symptoms include watery diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite, abdominal pain or tenderness and nausea

How long is a patient contagious?

As long as infectious germs are present in the stool, a person can be a possible source of disease spread. The exact time that the germ is present is unknown; symptoms usually alieviate 5-10 days after antibiotics are complete, but it can take up to 10 weeks.

How can I prevent infection?

  1. Frequent, careful hand washing by child care staff, children and household members.
  2. Clean, rinse with clean water, then disinfect contaminated areas (diapering area, toilets, potty chairs) and sanitize toys at least daily and when soiled.

For more information, please call the Northern Kentucky Health Department at 859.363.2070.

Sources: Northern Kentucky Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Added April 2015